As the threat of swine flu continues to spread, experts from the Centers for Disease Control to the World Health Organization to local physicians are calling for everyone to practice smart flu prevention techniques. Each has a list of precautions we all can take. I have taken those various lists and compiled them into 10 steps that I feel are common-sense practices to help boost your immune system and at the same time help prevent the spread of the flu. These simple steps are good to follow while you are still healthy and not showing any flu symptoms:
1. Wash hands frequently throughout the day.
2. Keep hands off the face. Resist all temptations to rub your eyes, rest your head on your hands, etc.
3. Be Vigilant of Surfaces. Be aware of what public surfaces you touch, when you've shaken hands with someone, or when you're using something others have recently used (i.e., a pen, phone, exercise equipment, etc.) and don't touch your face until you've had a chance to wash your hands.
4. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water. Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. Not only does salt water flush out post-nasal drip and other bacterial material (just like any fluid would), a salty environment prevents bacteria from growing. Use 1/2 to one teaspoon of salt (preferably sea salt) to 4 ounces of warm water). Make sure you do not swallow the salt water.
5. Clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. Blowing the nose hard at least once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water can be very effective in preventing bacteria from growing. You can also consider using a saline nasal wash once or twice a day.
6. Eat immune boosting foods and those rich in Vitamin C. Keeping your body strong, nourished, and ready to fight infection is important in flu prevention. Fatty foods can slow your metabolism, make you feel sluggish, and compromise your immune system. So stick with whole grains, colorful vegetables, and vitamin-rich fruits. If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc/bioflavonoids to boost absorption.
7. Keep Hydrated. Drink eight to ten 8-oz. glasses of water each day to flush toxins from your system and maintain good moisture and mucous production in your sinuses. Also, drink lots of warm liquids. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm. Green tea is a greatly beneficial warm liquid to incorporation into your daily practice.
8. Keep Physically Active. Mild to moderate exercise—for example brisk walking for 30-40 minutes 3-4 times a week—supports the immune system by increasing circulation, oxygenating the body, purging toxins through sweat, and releasing tension and stress.
9. Get enough sleep. This means slightly different things to different people, but try to get 8 hours of good rest each night to keep your immune system in top flu-fighting shape.
10. Avoid Alcohol. In addition to being a mood depressant, alcohol is an immune suppressant that can actually decrease your resistance to viral infections like swine flu. For women, alcohol suppresses estrogen production, which further impairs the immune system. So avoid alcoholic beverages to keep your immune system strong.
All the above are simple things you can do to help you prevent getting and/or spreading the flu.
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Disclaimer: This list was compiled by Carol Hansen Grey from various online sources. Carol is not a medical professional and this list in no way should be substituted for professional medical help. Should you feel ill, always consult a physician.