Common cold and the flu are both considered respiratory illnesses, but they have some distinct differences. The flu is a more serious illness and can lead to complications such as sinusitis, pneumonia, and even death. You may wonder if there is a means to fight it off and get back to your normal self. Luckily, there are means to boost your immune system and help your body fight off the flu.
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The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body from foreign invaders. These foreign invaders can be from bacteria and viruses to toxins and parasites. The immune system works by identifying these foreign invaders and then attacking them.
Flu commonly refers to a viral infection that attacks the respiratory system, which includes the nose, throat, and lungs. The virus is injected into the body through the nose or mouth and then travels to the lungs. The flu can cause several symptoms, including fever, coughing, sore throat, muscle aches, and fatigue.
Anyone can get the flu, but some people are at a higher risk for complications. These groups include pregnant women, young children, seniors, and people with chronic medical conditions.
While the flu may seem like a bad cold, it can be much more serious. The flu can lead to complications such as sinusitis, pneumonia, and even death. A way that sinusitis different from flu is that sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses, which are the air-filled cavities around the bones of your face while flu is a virus infection that causes fever, chills, and body aches.
Both common cold and flu viruses can cause severe illness in people with weakened immune systems. Therefore, it is important for everyone, especially those at high risk, to take steps to prevent the flu.
The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to boost your immune system. When your immune system is strong, it is better able to fight off infections.
There are different means for boosting your immune system. Here are some tips:
Vitamin C refers to a water-soluble vitamin that helps support the immune system. It is commonly found in citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, and kale. Other sources of vitamin C include bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, and cantaloupe.
In a day, aim to consume at least milligrams of vitamin C. This can easily translate to eating one orange or cup of Brussels sprouts.
Sleep is a vital factor for overall health and well-being and also plays a role in immunity. When your hours of sleep are not enough, your body produces fewer cytokines. Cytokines are proteins that help fight off infection and inflammation.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Consistency is key, so aim to stick to a regular sleep schedule. Get used to a regular bed and waking up time each day, even on weekends. It helps to establish a bedtime routine, such as reading or taking a bath, to signal to your body that it’s time to sleep.
Regular exercise offers one of the best things you can do for your health. It helps improve cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, and strengthens the immune system.
Aim to get minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every day. Moderate-intensity exercise includes activities such as walking, biking, and swimming. Rigorous exercise, such as running or playing tennis, can also be beneficial, but it’s essential to balance it with rest.
Chronic stress can harm your health and weaken the immune system. Stress is caused by some factors, including work, relationships, and finances. There are different ways you can reduce stress. Some stress-relieving techniques include yoga, meditation, and deep breathing.
Lifestyle changes like getting enough sleep, exercise, and reducing stress help boost your immune system and protect you from the flu.
A healthy diet is significant for overall health and also helps boost your immune system. Aim to eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Some foods particularly good for the immune system include garlic, ginger, turmeric, and green tea.
Aim to eat five to six servings of fruits and vegetables per day. This could include one cup of berries, a large salad, or two cups of cooked broccoli. On top of that, try to consume whole grains at most meals.
Zinc is a mineral that helps support the immune system. It’s found in various foods, including meat, poultry, seafood, and beans.
You can also take a zinc supplement. The daily allowance for zinc intake is around eight milligrams for adult women and eleven milligrams for adult men.
Probiotics refer to live bacteria in fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Also, take them in supplement form. Probiotics help support gut health, which is vital for immunity.
Aim to consume at least live cultures per day. This could mean eating a cup of yoghurt or taking a probiotic supplement.
You can boost your immune system by washing your hands often. Handwashing helps remove germs, including those that cause the flu. Aim to wash your hands several times a day, especially before you eat, after you use the restroom, and after you sneeze or cough.
Other hygienic practices in addition to washing your hands that can help boost your immune system include:
- Disinfecting surfaces such as countertops, door handles, and phones
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Wearing a mask if you are sick
- Staying home if you are sick
- Coughing and sneezing into your elbow
Chicken soup has been traditionally used to help fight off the flu. Some studies have shown that chicken soup may help reduce inflammation and improve immunity.
Make your chicken soup or buy it from the store. Use fresh ingredients such as organic chicken, vegetables, and herbs if you make your own.
These simple tips can help boost your immune system and fight off the flu. The above tips can help you keep yourself healthy during flu season. While there is no guarantee that you will not get the flu, boosting your immune system can help reduce your risk. Seeing a doctor when feeling sick is also essential. For any concerns about your health, be sure to speak with your doctor.