You have the flu - now what?

Winter is here and despite your best intentions, you’ve managed to come down with the flu. Even if you only suspect it, there are a few things you can do to recover more quickly, prevent a secondary infection and reduce the spread of infection.

Stay home

You’re most contagious in the earliest part of the illness (even before you start to experience any symptoms), so if possible, stay home from work and keep away from other people to stop the spread of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying home until you are fever-free, at least 24-hours.

Rest

At the first sign you might be getting sick, go straight to bed. Although this can be challenging with all of life’s commitments, getting adequate rest is so important for preventing and overcoming any illness.

Think about your gut health

The health of your immune system is largely dependant on the health of your gut, where more than 70% of your immune system is housed, so supporting gut health when you’ve got the flu is critical. The best way to do this is by consuming bone broths and eating probiotic-rich fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, miso and tempeh, or a probiotic supplement.

Keep hydrated

It’s likely you won’t feel like eating much when you’ve got the flu, but staying hydrated is really important. Coconut water is full of wonderful natural electrolytes, which make it perfect for supporting hydration. Unless you’re having the real fresh young coconuts, look for a brand that’s unsweetened.

Drink bone broth

There’s an old Chinese proverb that says, “A good chicken broth brings back the dead”, and there’s good reason in this ancient wisdom, because bone broth is full of super immune-boosting nutrients, amino acids, minerals, and cartilage compounds – just be sure to choose one that’s made from organic or pasture fed/free range animals. A vegetarian alternative is miso soup, which is made using fermented soybeans and a good source of protein, probiotics and micronutrients – preferably an organic naturally fermented one, without any additives.

Or sip herbal tea

A nice warm cup of tea can help soothe sore throats, clear stuffy noses and ease chest congestion. Green tea, liquorice root and elderberry have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties, which may work to support your immune system and ease some of these symptoms. Echinacea has been found to reduce the severity of viral infections and shorten the duration of infection, but its best to drink Echinacea tea as soon as you feel flu symptoms come on. You can add a teaspoon of Manuka honey to your tea for added antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.

Take an Epsom salt bath

Nothing soothes an aching body like a nice hot Epsom salts bath. Epsom salt is high in magnesium sulfate, which will help to ease tired achy muscles.

Avoid sugar

Sugar suppresses immune function, can increase infection time and adversely affect the bacteria in our gut. All sugar-sweetened foods and beverages should be avoided completely when you’ve got the flu.

Get out your oil burner

Diffusing essential oils such as peppermint (menthol), eucalyptus (antibacterial), tea tree (antiseptic, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory) and oregano (antibacterial), may help to open and clear congested airways as well as rid the air of bacteria and other microbes. Just make sure you use 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils that don’t contain any synthetic fragrance or fillers.

Dose up on Vitamin C

Vitamin C has long been known for its role in supporting a healthy immune system and research shows it can reduce the severity and duration of upper respiratory tract infections. Foods rich in vitamin C include fresh seasonal fruits (citrus fruits, berries, kiwi fruit, mango and pineapple) and vegetables (broccoli, kale, capsicum, parsley and fresh peas). Vitamin C is sensitive to heat, light and oxygen and can be partly or completely destroyed by processing, storage or overcooking. Vitamin C can also be taken in supplement form.

Top up on zinc

Zinc is a mineral that is essential for the health of our immune system and has been shown to reduce the duration of upper respiratory tract infection symptoms. The best food sources of zinc are red meat, poultry and seafood (especially oysters and shellfish). Nuts, seeds, legumes, grains and beans that have been soaked (activated) are also good sources, particularly pumpkin seeds. Zinc can also be taken in supplement form.

And don't forget your Vitamin D

Low levels of vitamin D have been shown to reduce immune function and increase the risk of infection. Vitamin D is produced in the body when skin is exposed to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 49% of people living in the southern states of Australia were vitamin D deficient in winter. The best sources of vitamin D are through safe sun exposure, and foods such as liver, eggs, organic dairy and seafood. Vitamin D can also be taken in supplement form.

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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