How to prevent cold & flu germs from going viral

Shanthini Naidoo shares expert tips to boost your immune system and keep colds and flu at bay

Last week, the sniffles and sneezes in our household accelerated to sky-high fevers and eventually, a visit to the doctor.

It is hardly the beginning of winter and we are already stocked up with antibiotics, probiotics, and a range of symptomatic treatments for infected mucosa, coughs and fever.

It is a stressful – and expensive – exercise.

Here’s what the experts say about prevention of colds and flu:

Flu vaccination

Vaccines, made up of small inactive parts of flu viruses, stimulate the creation of antibodies that will fight off viruses, says Lizeth Kruger, Dis-Chem’s national clinic manager. Because viruses can change, the vaccine is adapted annually. Immunity kicks in after about 14 days. Safe for kids, the elderly and pregnant women.

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Exercise and activity

The body’s immunity is boosted by mild exercise and movement. Walk regularly, for at least 30 minutes at a time.

Hand washing

This is an easy prevention method, for the home and office.

Vitamin supplementation

Patrick Holford, the vitamin expert, quotes a study in which vitamin C was taken in high doses (at least 1000mg) as a flu fighter. “Patients’ cold symptoms reduced by 85% compared to those receiving conventional cold and flu treatment,” he said.

It can also be taken to prevent flu, along with zinc and vitamin D.

Natural goodness.

Echinacea is a natural immune booster and can assist with symptoms of colds and flu. Berries, cherries and other blue-red foods contain infection-fighting anthocyanidin compounds. Anti-inflammatories like turmeric and ginger are also effective.

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“The natural remedies really work, but you have to take them continuously and consistently. Every day, throughout flu season,” says Kruger.

If you have been ill for more than a week, and symptoms are not easing, visit your doctor. Some viruses, viral or fungal pneumonia and serious infections must be treated carefully.

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