But, do you know the difference between a flu and a cold?
The flu or influenza, is a viral upper respiratory illness that comes on suddenly, causing symptoms such as fever, body aches, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, a dry cough, and a sore or dry throat. Often a flu can lead to a bacterial infection like bronchitis, an ear infection or sinus infection. In the worst case, pneumonia may develop.
- 1 in 4 Canadians get the flu each year. It is estimated that 12,200 people are hospitalized each year and over 3,500 Canadians die every year from serious complications of the flu.(1) Worldwide there is 1 billion cases of influenza every year! (1) Three influenza pandemics occurred in the past 100 years. The worst was at the turn of the 20th century where the Spanish Flu killed close to 100 million people. Oh, and there is no such thing as a “Stomach flu”. This is actually viral gastroenteritis, or simply put - a mild case of food poisoning.
A cold is also an infection of the upper respiratory system but is not so severe. Symptoms include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat, sneezing, watery eyes and congestion.
Typically you catch the cold or flu through the air by coughs or sneezes.
Here are some simple steps to fight the cold and flu:
1. Get adequate sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours of restful sleep
2. Eat properly. Stop eating processed foods. Eat whole foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish and meat. Forget the chips, granola bars and soy burgers. Building up your immunity naturally is the best way to combat the flu.
According to Dr. Michael Greger, author and founder of NutritionFacts.org (and one of my favorite health advocates) “Inadequate fruit and vegetable intake may help explain the loss of immune function as we age, which is linked to an increased risk of dying from pneumonia and influenza…... Influenza and pneumonia constitute the seventh leading cause of death for our elderly. It’s never too late to start eating healthier.” (3)
3. Influenza thrives on drastic temperature changes. I know that’s kind of hard living in Winnipeg. Being smart to reduce the strain on your body’s immune system. Dress appropriately. If you have to go outside when it’s 30 below don’t forget a hat, gloves/mitts and warm boots. Keep your home at a comfortable temperature – not too warm.
4. Wash your hands regularly. Not only when you go the washroom, but after going out in public – be it shopping, going to a sporting event, a play or the gym.
5. Eat Garlic and Gargle. This is a natural adaptogenic infection fighter. Known as the poor person’s antibiotic, Garlic helps eradicate infections as they enter your immune system. Gargling with Salt water is beneficial. Also, try oil pulling with Coconut Oil. Swishing for 5 to 15 minutes is all you need to help get rid of nasty bacteria in the mouth.
6. Exercise Regularly. Working out helps to relieve stress which in turn helps your body’s immune system. By building up the virus-fighting antibodies this can also improve the response when receiving a flu shot. People who exercise get colds less often than those who don’t work out. So keep moving! (4)
A word of caution - if you currently have the flu – do NOT try and sweat it out. The additional stress on your body will just prolong the infection.
7. Get a Humidifier. The Flu virus thrives in dry air environments.
8. Get Vaccinated? Well there’s a lot of controversy over getting vaccinated. This one’s a personal choice. I do NOT get the flu shot and have never gotten sick. As most vaccines contain mercury, keeping toxins out of the body should be your first priority – not filling Drug Company pockets. Plus there is little evidence that supports the belief that vaccines are effective in preventing influenza in healthy adults. According to Greenmedinfo.com, Influenza vaccines have a modest effect in reducing influenza symptoms and working days lost, however, there is no evidence that they affect complications, such as pneumonia, or transmission of the flu. (2)
Don’t get sidelined by sickness. Taking simple steps can help you avoid seasonal colds and flus before it starts.
(4) https://www.health.com/health/video/0,,20970352,00.html t