What you can do to remain flu-free
So, the Islands’ long-promised batch of the H1N1 vaccine has yet again been delayed. This unwelcome news, as well as being something of a water cooler topic among moms, is also causing parents to review what they are doing to help their family outsmart all strains of flu this year.
Hectic lifestyles, involving eating on the run and poor diet choices go hand in hand with family life and should be guarded against as they can significantly lower the vitality of your immune system.
A suppressed immune system weakens the body’s resistance to ward off viruses such as flu: a highly contagious respiratory illness.
Flu spreads through the body by attacking the respiratory tract, including the nasal passages, throat and lungs.
There are dozens of different types of cold viruses at large and new strains develop every few years.
Watch out for flu symptoms including fever, sore throat, coughing, body aches, chills and extreme fatigue. A large number of H1N1 sufferers have also experienced diarrhoea and vomiting.
Family practitioner Dr. Virginia Hobday of Cayman Clinic says there is a lot that parents can do to stave off flu.
As a physician and a mother of young children, she gives the following tips on how to ramp up your family’s immune system and keep flu at bay.
Tiredness: Make sure family members, including you, have the full eight hours sleep that most people require to wake up refreshed and alert. Fatigue can sabotage immunity leaving the body more susceptible to flu viruses.
Lather up: Get your family to follow your lead by making sure that everyone washes their hands frequently to keeps germs at bay. A thorough hand washing before and after eating, attending social functions and school is probably one of the easiest and most effective ways of fighting flu.
Germ warfare: Carry a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer in your bag. Use the gel and disposable wipes as another defence against flu. Wipe the door knobs in public restrooms, the handles of grocery shopping carts and even the laminated kids’ menu at your favourite eateries.
Cover your mouth: Always sneeze into your forearm rather than into your hand to avoid transferring the virus onto objects that others might touch. ‘The flu virus is airborne in droplets so shielding your mouth can help spread the illness,’ Ms Hobday cautions.
Eat right: Eat a balanced diet and add some immunity boosting snacks to your diet. Good bacteria, which aid digestion, can be found in some yoghurt. Also increase your family’s intake of essential fatty acids by eating proteins like salmon and anti-oxidants rich berries.
Stay hydrated: Keep your body at its optimum functional state by drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day so that it can fight off flu promoting viruses.
Take vitamin C or a daily multivitamin: Children who are fussy eaters plus long, busy days eating on the hoof mean that despite the best of intentions your diets may not be as balanced as you would like. Vitamin C enhances the body’s natural immune fighting ability, even during illness; while the multivitamins support a number of health functions needed to keep your body healthy and safe.
Exercise: Regular, moderate exercise is a great way to boost your metabolism and ensure that it is functioning well. Taking any kind of exercise three or four times a week makes your body less prone to succumbing to infections or viruses.