Easy ways to prevent the flu this winter

Wearing wet socks to bed, getting frisky and eating eggs: Try these unexpected ways to ward off a case of the flu this winter.

The current flu season is predicted to be ‘mild to moderate’, and while we all know the best way to avoid infection with the influenza virus is through vigilant hand washing, good nutrition, exercise, hydration and adequate sleep, there are a few other ways to boost your immune system and ward off the flu this winter.

Wear wet socks to bed

Sounds crazy, but the wet-sock treatment is one of naturopathy’s most effective treatments for colds and flu. Here’s what to do: At bedtime, soak a pair of thin cotton socks in cold water and wring them out. Dunk your feet in some warm water and dry them off. Put on the wet cotton socks and put a pair of dry thick woollen socks on over the top, then hit the hay. By the morning, your socks will be completely dry and the alternating hot and cold temperature will stimulate your circulation and lymphatics, whose primary function is to transport lymph (a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells) throughout the body, increasing immune system activity and decreasing respiratory congestion.

Nasal irrigation

If you feel some nasal congestion coming on, try using a neti pot to clear bacteria or potential irritants from your nasal passages. Our nasal passages are the first line of defence against allergens, pollutants and other irritants and a nasal wash is an effective way to flush out mucus and toxins and keep our nasal passages healthy. Usually made from ceramic, the neti pot is a traditional Ayurvedic therapy that dates back thousands of years and is a teapot shaped irrigation device designed to gently rinse bacteria, debris or mucus from your nasal cavity using a saltwater solution, helping to prevent and relieve symptoms of the flu.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), resistance to catching the flu is dependent on the strength of your Qi (often translated as the energy required for all processes of the body). One of the major functions of Qi is to warm and protect the exterior aspects of the body from external pathogenic invasions. Frequent susceptibility to colds and flu are referred to as a ‘Qi deficiency’, which, aside from catching colds and flu easily, may also be accompanied with fatigue, cough or poor digestion. Some of the common Qi Tonics in TCM to support immunity and prevent the flu include Astragalus, Siberian Ginseng and Reishi.

Reduce your stress

Your immune system is intrinsically linked to your stress levels. Stress triggers the release of cortisol into the bloodstream and while this hormone serves a purpose in acute situations of stress, increased and chronic stress can wreak havoc with our immune system causing inflammation, reduced white blood cells and increased risk of infection. Try doing 10 minutes of deep belly breathing or meditation every day to reduce your stress levels and improve the health of your immune system.

Get a massage

A growing body of research indicates massage therapy can benefit the immune system by increasing the activity level of the body’s white blood cells that work to combat viruses. Massage also decreases the amount of cortisol (stress hormone) in the blood. Why not book yourself in for a lymphatic massage to help you de-stress and increase the production of infection-fighting antibodies.

Have sex

Yes, sex has been shown to have immune-boosting effects when had regularly according to a study done at Wilkes University. The study found that participants who had sex 1-2 times a week had a 30% increase in their levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA) – an antigen found in saliva and mucosal linings that acts as the bodies first line of defence against colds and the flu. While those participants who abstained or who had sex more than 2 times per week had significantly lower concentrations IgA.

Boost your vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is produced in the body when skin is exposed to UVB rays from sunlight and may be an important way to arm the immune system against like the flu. A 2014 Cochrane review analysed the efficacy of flu vaccinations and results of the studies suggest that vitamin D supplements may be almost six times more effective at preventing influenza than vaccination. Evidence also shows that those with lower vitamin D levels in the winter months are more likely to get the flu. To boost your vitamin D, practise safe sun exposure and eat foods that are high in vitamin D like organic liver, eggs and dairy and wild-caught fatty fish.\

Flu vaccination

Flu vaccines are only partially protective as the influenza virus strains and subtypes continually evolve and mutate. According to Australian studies it can be estimated that the risk of influenza is reduced by 40-50% in people who receive the vaccine. The World Health Organisation updates the recommended composition of influenza vaccines twice a year, with the current vaccine in Australia covering 4 influenza subtypes including an updated immunization for influenza A H3N2 strain that was blamed for the majority of flu reported deaths – mostly among the elderly – in 2017.

Disclaimer – Please always seek the advice of a healthcare professional before taking any supplements.

This article was brought to you by Fusion Health.

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