‘Tis the season to be sniffly! I’m not sure about your household, but my family gets sick every flu season. It starts with our youngest and works its way around to each of us, without fail.
This year I decided to take preventative action! I decided to do everything in my power to help stop the flu from entering our homes and disrupting our lives. I mean, our lives are JUST starting to get back to normal, and many flu symptoms are also covid symptoms which would mean missing more work, school, and fun. So where did I start?
1. Foods To Boost Your Immunity This Flu Season
I did some research on foods that are good for our immune systems and respiratory systems first. Then I went on the search for healthy, quick, and tasty meals that I could whip up after work.
According to https://www.healthline.com, any food that is high in Vitamin C helps to build your immune system. These include citrus fruits and red bell peppers among others. Did you know that red bell peppers contain almost 3x the amount of vitamin C as an orange?
Another food that was high on the list was broccoli. Broccoli is one of the healthiest veggies out there as it contains fibre, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and E. If you can eat it raw or steamed, it will keep most of its nutrients. If you cook it too much, then it will lose them.
Garlic and ginger made the cut, too. I love garlic and I’m very happy it made the list. You can put it in everything! It is good at fighting infections because of the high levels of sulphur that it contains.
Ginger helps fight inflammation, which is why it is known to help with sore throats. It can also help fight nausea and general pain, too.
You don’t have to wait until you are sick, make ginger tea a part of your daily routine now. It’s super easy to make: peel, cut, and boil a few chunks of ginger for 10 minutes or so, add in some local raw honey, and voila! It makes your kitchen smell nice, too.
I knew about many of the foods I mentioned above already, but one that surprised me was yogurt. I knew that it was healthy, but I had no idea that the kind with live cultures helps boost your immune system.
And get this, there are clinical trials happening right now to study the effects of yogurt on covid-19! This one is already a daily part of my and my toddler’s diet. My teenagers usually stick with cereal for breakfast, but if I nag them enough, they’ll eat yogurt as a snack:)
The last food that caught my eye from this list was poultry. It contains vitamin B6 which helps with the production of red blood cells and helps to reduce inflammation in the body. If you boil the bones for broth, then you are also getting nutrients that will help heal your gut and boost your immune system.
Who doesn’t love a nice, hot, tasty bowl of chicken noodle soup on a cold, winter’s day? Chicken is an ingredient that the whole family loves, and if I make soup with it, then I can add in those healthy veggies for a super immune-boosting meal!
Need an easy chicken noodle soup recipe? If you have an instant pot, just throw in a whole chicken, 12 cups of chicken broth (or water and bouillon cubes), and as many veggies as you’d like. I use celery, carrots, onions and sometimes I throw in some broccoli, too. Add in some parsley, basil and oregano, and 1 bay leaf, and close the lid.
Click the button for poultry (35mins high pressure) and let it do its thing. Quick-release the pressure once it’s finished and open the lid.
Remove the chicken (I put in the insert first so I only have to pull out the insert afterward). Shred however much chicken you’d like and add it back into the soup. Press the saute button and add in some egg noodles. Boil for 5 minutes, and enjoy!
Use the rest of the chicken however you’d like. I usually make chicken salad sandwiches and have chicken salads over the next few days to use it up.
For other kid-friendly, healthy recipes that I found online, visit 30 Best Kid-Friendly Recipes. My favourites included Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage and Kale, Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas and Skillet Chicken Pot Pie
There are other immune-boosting, healthy foods, but they don’t fit well with my family. I need to make sure that my efforts don’t increase my stress levels, and trying to figure out recipes to use turmeric after a long, hard day’s work would definitely increase my stress.
This leads me to my second bit of research; how to reduce stress.
2. 5 Quick Stress-Relieving Strategies
What I was most interested in finding was very quick and easy stress-relieving strategies that my whole family could use. Our immune systems find it hard to work properly when we are under too much stress, so managing stress is a very important thing to learn, for everyone in the family.
There are many things that we can do throughout the day, whether at school or work, that can help keep our stress levels manageable:
For some people, listening to music works very quickly to relax and calm the body/mind. Teenagers find this especially helpful in my experience as a high school teacher.
2. Deep breathing
Take 1 minute to close your eyes and purposefully breathe in deeply (try counting to 3 or 4), hold for 2 seconds and then exhale for around 5 seconds. Repeat this for the full minute. This has been scientifically proven to help reduce your blood pressure and heart rate. I promise you will feel refreshed and relaxed after the minute is over.
There are other ways of deep breathing, too. So, if this one doesn’t appeal to you, search for another option.
Take a minute to laugh. Watch a “Just For Laughs” clip or that cat video that always makes you smile. Read a joke or listen to a funny tv show clip. Whatever makes you laugh is perfect. Just make sure that it can make you laugh quickly or you’ll be wasting your time.
Do you think this one is a joke? Think again. The science behind this shows that laughter can help to give your immune system a boost! Don’t believe me? Read this.
Just in case you don’t have the time, I’ll give you a quick summary. Laughter has positive effects both short-term and long-term. In the short term, laughter stimulates blood flow which can help with muscle tension, increases then decreases your stress levels which leaves you feeling relaxed, and stimulates organs like the heart, lungs and muscles. It also helps your brain to release endorphins.
In the long-term, it can help with pain, your mood and help to improve your immune system.
Laughter is some powerful medicine!
4. Chew gum
Just a few minutes of chewing any gum, of any flavour, can help lower anxiety and calm you down. It also decreases cortisol levels in the body.
I have personal experience with this one.
Every day when entering our home, I’d come face to face with a very cluttered mudroom. It was jam-packed with boxes, bags, shoes (how DO we collect so many?), bags, laundry and long-forgotten toys. It looked more like a storage room than a mudroom. I never thought anything of it, and I was usually too busy to pay attention to the mess anyway. I’d come in, drop my bags and off I’d go!
Then one day my husband cleaned out the whole room. He must’ve spent 2 hours in there organizing. Later that day when we came back from grocery shopping I stepped into the mudroom and stopped in my tracks. I took a long, deep breath in and out, and I looked at him and said simply, “Thank you.” My whole body relaxed. It was incredible.
I had NO idea how much stress and tension that cluttered room was causing me until it wasn’t there anymore. I am now making it my mission to declutter everything that I possibly can around the house to try and help keep us feeling relaxed.
There are many, many other possibilities as well. A quick Google search will get you a ton of results, so if you’re not a fan of any of the stress-relieving strategies listed here then do your own research. You’ll be happy that you did.
The final part of my pro-active “beat the flu before we get it” plan requires a visit to our local, pharmacy.
3. The Flu Vaccine
Every year our local pharmacy, like Riverbend Pharmacy & Clinic in London, Ontario, offers the updated flu vaccine which is formulated specifically to protect against the flu virus going around in that year. Many pharmacies across Ontario offer this same service.
Many of us are aware of this, but what do we really know about the flu vaccine? Why is it so important to vaccinate our families against the flu? I decided to do some research to find out so that I had an answer in case any of the kids decided to fight with me about it. Here’s what I found out:
Who should get it?
According to canada.ca, everyone older than 6 months should get the flu vaccine. I didn’t realize that babies could get it, too! I thought it would be for 1 or 2 yrs old and older, but I was wrong. There are certain people who are at a higher risk of developing serious complications or even dying from the flu. I have quoted the list from the same link as above.
People with health conditions, such as:
- cancer and other immune compromising conditions
- heart disease
- lung disease
- kidney disease
- neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions
- children up to 18 years of age undergoing treatment for long periods with acetylsalicylic acid (ASA)
- people 65 years and older
- people who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
- children under 5 years of age
- people who experience barriers in accessing health care
- people who are at an increased risk of disease because of living conditions, such as overcrowding
It is especially important for the people in this group to get vaccinated against the flu each year. It is equally important for those who are in direct contact with people from this group to also get vaccinated. We need to help protect each other and not only ourselves.
You should not get the vaccine if:
- You are allergic to anything in the flu vaccine. If you have a severe allergy and are unsure about whether or not you should get the vaccine, talk to your local pharmacy or family doctor about it.
- Your child is younger than 6 months, they should not get the vaccine, either.
- If you’ve ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) you should speak with your doctor before getting the vaccine.
Check out this link to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention website for more information on who should and shouldn’t get vaccinated against the flu.
If you are located in London, Ontario and would like to book a flu shot at Riverbend Pharmacy & Clinic, click here to be taken to the online registration form.
Why Should We Get It?
You are less likely to catch the flu if you are vaccinated against it. Even if you do catch it, your symptoms are more likely to be less severe than those who are unvaccinated. You are also less likely to spread it to others, which is great news for those individuals who can’t get vaccinated, including our precious babies.
Did you know that you can contract Covid-19 and the flu at the same time? That wouldn’t be good. Becoming vaccinated against the flu, or both will help prevent this from happening.
The Final Frontier
Even after having done all of this research and putting into practice my findings, I’m still going to stock up on cold & flu medicines, Vicks, vitamins, throat lozenges and other things available at Riverbend Pharmacy & Clinic that may help if we do catch a bug this flu season. Stay tuned on more about natural health products in my next blog.
I hope that my research and words have helped you and your family better prepare and protect against the flu this season. Enjoy your family and the holidays safely. Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and a Happy New Year! Until next time,