5 best ways to fight the flu

It all has to do with building up your immune strength.

Do you think your health has to suffer every time the chilly season rolls around? Well, think again because this year things are going to be different.

The cool crisp nights are here and so are the nasty coughs, colds and sniffles that so often go with them. This year, why not fight back by trying one (or even all) of the following smart remedies.

1. Sup on soup

Okay, Mum was right … again. Turns out that piping hot soup is the perfect dish for when you’re suffering from the dreaded winter lurgy. Chicken soup has long been the flavour of choice, but recent studies show that it’s not the chicken itself but the anti-inflammatory action of the vegetables that accompany it (think onions, garlic, carrots, parsnips and even parsley) that make all the difference.

What’s the correct soup dosage for speedy recovery? It’s up to you, says Frances Sheridan Goulart, nutritionist and author of Super Immunity Foods (McGraw-Hill, $29.95). “Depending on the stability of your stomach, try downing three or more mugs, diluting the serving with filtered water when needed,” she advises.

Related: Man Flu exists, say scientists

2. Don’t fight it

Catch a nasty winter bug and you’re looking at fever, the production and expulsion of mucous, coughs and fatigue. Many of us respond by taking cold and flu medications designed to mask those very symptoms.

Yet symptom suppression bypasses the immune response to illness, essentially robbing the immune system of the opportunity to push the body through the natural healing process, says Earl Mindell, co-author of Prescription Alternatives (McGraw-Hill, $39.95). “These may be nagging symptoms, but they are also natural and beneficial healing effects orchestrated by the immune system,” he says.

Earl’s recommended plan of action for fighting flu? Get to bed early, stay warm, avoid junk food and drink plenty of filtered water and hot herbal tea.

3. Wash your hands (then do it again)

The most common way to catch a cold or flu is by shaking hands or touching a surface that a sick person just wiped some germs on (yucky, but true). You can fight this trend by washing your hands regularly throughout the day, particularly before you eat and by avoiding touching your face.

If you know you’re going to be somewhere that is heavily populated, such as the local shopping centre or the train station, but you’re not confident you’ll have access to a bathroom, pop some anti-bacterial hand gel into your purse. The majority of these gels kill more than 99.9 per cent of germs on contact. Try not to rely on anti-bacterial gels, though.

Microbiologists at the University of North Carolina tested 14 hand-hygiene agents, including alcohol wipes and anti-bacterial liquids, and found that when it came to removing germs soap and water did the best job.

Related: Flu Remedy

4. Take your vitamins (especially C)

Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that’s been recognised as a powerful health booster for centuries – indeed, it was being hailed as a cure for scurvy back in the early 1800s. In recent years, it’s become more widely known as a cure for the common cold.

To increase your immunity and therefore lessen your chances of falling ill, you can take vitamin C in supplement form or ensure you regularly tuck into citrus fruits, pineapple and rockmelon, suggests Dr James Duke, author of The Green Pharmacy (Rodale, $28.95).

If you do succumb to a cold, it might pay to increase your dosage. A study carried out at the University of Wisconsin found that taking 500mg of vitamin C four times a day relieved symptoms and cut colds short by several days.

5. Take responsibility

If you want to stay fighting fit throughout the chilly season then you need to take good care of yourself. That means recognising that you have choices and that you need to live with the consequences of those choices.

“For instance, in order to meet a deadline you may place yourself under prolonged stress, neglect your diet and forget your exercise,” says Dr John Travis, co-author of Wellness Workbook – How To Achieve Enduring Health And Vitality (Simon & Schuster, $39.95). “These are your choices. If they are short-term, you will probably bounce back easily. But, occasionally, they may result in a cold or some other condition that sends you to bed. Are you responsible for the cold? Yes, at some level you are.”

Yet that’s no reason to wallow. “Simply accept the cold as an important message from your body and use it as a chance to rest and rebalance,” advises Dr Travis.

6. Add Kunzea honey to your diet

One of the rarest varieties of honey in the world, Zea Gourmet Kunzea Honey is organically harvested from bees foraging in the pristine and remote wilderness of Flinders Island & North-East Tasmania.

Ethically harvested only once a year, this unique honey boasts the highly nutritious and natural medicinal properties of Kunzea whilst being a delicious spread that can be added to toast, porridge, a cup of tea or eaten straight off the spoon.

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