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How to not get the Flu

Summer has come and gone and the next thing you know, the temperatures are dropping and people around you are starting to cough and sneeze. It is the cold and flu season and you want to stay healthy.

And fair enough. Colds are one thing. No-one likes to have a runny nose, a fever and the associated aches and pains. You do feel miserable, however it is normally just a temporary inconvenience, a few days and you start to feel better. The flu though is a nasty piece of work and can be fatal in the young, elderly and those with an underlying heart condition or weakened immune system.

While many people tend to take the cheats way out and visit their doctor for the current season’s flu shot, I prefer to leave that to the high risk groups. I also like to steer clear of vitamin tablets and other pharmaceutical products. Personally, I think they are too expensive and don’t seem to provide the near miraculous benefits ascribed to them.

I love my sport and there is an old sporting adage that “the best defence is a good offense”. And against the flu, that involves boosting your immune system.

Eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables with antioxidants is a good start. Carotenoids in the yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, your pumpkins, carrots (obviously), oranges and lemons, are said to have immunity bolstering properties. Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, are also a good source of these. Allicin, in onions and garlic, is thought to have antibacterial and antiviral properties. There is also the stock standard Vitamin C laced fruits, things like citrus fruits and berries.

Traditional herbs and spices are also very good. Ginger has a long tradition in Chinese herbal medicine as a preventative and treatment for colds and flu. Ginger tea, made with a half teaspoon each of ginger powder, fennel seeds and cinnamon, topped off with a pinch of cloves, always does the trick for me. Add the herbs to boiling water and allow to steep for a good ten minutes.

Studies have shown a link between anxiety and immunity levels. Things that reduce anxiety will also reap a positive result. Regular massage, a good night’s sleep, moderate exercise, and plenty of sex are all helpful. And yes, I did say plenty of sex. Believe it or not, studies have shown that people who have sex at least twice a week produce more immunoglobin A, which is an antibody that provides protection against infectious agents.

Stress can have a negative impact on your health. According to natural Mim Beim in her book “Natural Therapies to Boost the Mood and Mind” (Doubleday), long term stress and the higher cortisol output associated with this decreases the number of immune cells in your blood. Calm breathing techniques, meditation and acupuncture can all help to reduce stress. Of course, plenty of sex will also help.

Last but not least, a positive attitude can work wonders. Immune cells have been shown to be prevalent in higher numbers in optimistic people than pessimistic people. Be happy, laugh often and you will keep those colds and flu at bay. And yes, plenty of sex won’t go astray either.