It’s fall. And you know what that means. You can’t go a hundred feet without someone trying to strong-arm you into getting a flu shot.
But the truth is the flu shot is, at best, a shot in the dark. Because scientists are literally making a wild guess when they try to predict what strain of the flu will be circulating every year.
Some years they guess right. But they reality is they often miss the mark entirely. And even when they do manage to get the virus right, the shot’s effectiveness can be unpredictable.
In fact, a recent study out of Britain revealed what you may have suspected all along. The flu shot is often ineffective for seniors.
The analysis found last year’s flu vaccine did little to NOTHING to protect seniors.
The shot failed to cover against H3, the main virus strain that circulated last year.
But experts say that even if the scientists had guessed right on the strain, it might not have protected older folks very well. Because vaccines can often be less than effective in seniors.
And even in younger folks, the protection can be hit or miss.
Which means regardless of whether you choose to get a flu shot or not, you could end up sick. That is unless you take some extra steps to fight the flu.
Fight the flu with these simple steps
Following are five simple steps you can take to fight the flu, regardless of whether or not you get the flu shot.
1. Wash your hands the RIGHT way:
Have you ever noticed how often moms turn out to be right? If yours was always telling you to wash your hands, you owe her a thank you. Because experts say this simple step is also one of the most effective for preventing the flu (and colds too!).
But it turns out how you wash them, matters.
First, it’s important to scrub your hands for at least 15 seconds. (Longer is better.) To make sure you scrub for long enough try humming two rounds of “Row Row Row Your Boat” while you’re soaping your hands.
If you’re using a public restroom after rinsing grab a paper towel (or toilet paper if necessary) to turn off the faucet and open the door. And avoid using the air dryers, which can be home to all kinds of ugly bugs.
2. Don’t rely on hand sanitizer:
We get it. Those little purse-sized bottles of hand sanitizer seem like a great idea. But the truth is they’re likely giving you a false sense of safety that could backfire on you. Researchers say they might not even kill viruses, like the flu virus.
Besides, if you’re using an antibacterial hand sanitizer you could be doing far more harm than good. Antibacterial products contribute to bacterial resistance and the growth of superbugs.
Plus they could make you more vulnerable to getting sick by killing off your good gut bugs. (To learn more about this growing problem, click here.)
3. Boost your nutrition:
You should be eating healthy all year round. But to fight the flu pay particular attention to your diet during the fall and winter months.
For example, don’t skimp out on the veggies. And be sure to load your plate up with lots of yellow and orange ones. They’re packed with phytonutrients that are particularly good at helping your body beat back the flu.
But don’t stop there. Raw garlic contains a compound called allicin, which will help fight off bacteria and viruses. And crab and cashews are both high in zinc, which helps prevent flu germs from taking hold.
Finally, make sure you’re drinking plenty of liquids. We tend to drink less during the cooler months, which can lead to mild dehydration. When you’re dehydrated, your immune system doesn’t work as well. Which means you’re more likely to get sick.
4. Carry your own pen:
When you touch something that someone with the flu has touched before you, chances are you’ll pick up the virus. You can’t wrap yourself up in a bubble all fall and winter long. But you can cut back on your exposure.
Start by always carrying your own pen. Every time you go to the bank, check out in a store, or settle your bill in a restaurant you’re given a pen to use that’s been handled by countless other folks before you. If one of them had the flu, you very well may end up with it too.
But don’t just use your pen for banking or paying bills. That same pen is great for pushing ATM and elevator buttons too.
5. Workout wisely:
When the weather turns cool, or there’s snow on the ground, it’s normal to feel more like hibernating on the couch than moving. Fight that urge.
Exercise is key to a strong immune system. Which means it’s also key to staying flu-free. So now is NOT the time to skip out on the exercise.
But if you work out at the gym, make sure to step up your germ-fighting game. Thoroughly wipe down any machines before you start using them. And don’t forget handrails on machines such as the treadmill.
As soon as you finish working out take a shower, and use your own towel.
There’s a LOT pf pressure to get a flu shot this time of year. But regardless of whether you choose to go for the jab or not, you can fight the flu with these five tips.