When we were small there were two flu seasons in India unlike western world where flu season is spread over several months. One could officially announce the period from mid-Oct to mid Nov and mid-Feb to mid-March as flu period in India. It was easier to be careful as it was for short terms. Our sunny weather and clear division of seasons was the reason for it. As climate change is slowly taking over seasons are merging or diffusing into one another with an increase in average temperature. This increase in temperature has led to increase in many disease.
The changes because of global warming impact the survival, reproduction, or distribution of disease pathogens and hosts, as well as the availability and means of their transmission environment. This impact reveals as shifts in the geographic and seasonal patterns of human infectious diseases, and as changes in their outbreak frequency and severity. Our flu seasons have also become year round with mutated viruses creating havoc.
One can find huge amount of tips on internet to increase immunity but due to continuous mutations it’s difficult to be immune for all of them. The environmentally conscious people advocate against the use of medications and to sit out the entire duration with one’s immunity working overtime. I agree with them that the medications used, mostly antibiotics, create monstrous germs but on the other hand an occurrence of flu decreases the bodies immunity for very long time, kills the balance of good bacteria in the gut and makes one vulnerable to many other infections. This means that an environmentally conscious person should avoid getting flu in the first place….
The possible ways to prevent flu in a green way can be divided into two classes-
Don’t Spread Flu and Don’t Catch Flu
Don’t Spread flu-
is a discussion on ethics and morals rather than immunity and home tips but I find it the most important of all.
One should avoid going out to work or school if they are experiencing the onset of a viral infection. In the western world where flu was always a major epidemic due to weather conditions, employees and children are sent back from work/schools if they start the symptoms. With air-conditioned offices and closed schools having a sick person inside can increase the spread many a lot more. Once my kid too was sent back from playschool while I was there for higher education. We don’t see such consciousness in India. Its little difficult in a country where majority of population lives below poverty line and can’t lose even a day’s earning. For starters people who can avoid spreading should stay away from infecting others.
Don’t catch the flu-
In this case one can use all precautions, standard or weird, to prevent the virus from entering our bodies. Standard ones are increasing vitamins, hot beverages, herbal infusions, exercising, and stress reduction. Weird ones are ones we fail to see connection with flu and fall sick.
The Touch- We are taught from a very young age to wash hands before eating. It’s a must but what about other times. We have three other entry points on the face- nose, eyes and ears. Touching anyone of them with infected hands can make one sick.
I had heard from a microscopist friend that they were not allowed to work on common microscope even if they had simple cold or wipe it thoroughly with alcohol after use. Eyes are one of the main causes of spread of infection. One must use a clean cotton cloth to wipe or rub eyes/nose if hands are not clean.
Places which we touch and which host a huge number of pathogens are elevator push-buttons, ATM buttons, escalator/ stair railing, seats/holding rails in a public transport, taps in a washroom and money both coins and paper currency. *
Environmentalists go against using hand sanitizer but it has almost become a necessity. One can simply use some rubbing alcohol in place of hand-sanitizers. I prefer wearing soft cotton gloves while I am out to do work or shopping. It avoids direct contact with contaminated surfaces which I am forced to touch. Alternatively I carry small DIY cloth napkins, mostly recycled, to use when I need to touch a push button. These can be washed thoroughly later. It may look odd at times but believe me these couple of precautions have reduced my family’s flu occurrences’ by 70% .
The Saline Magic- Contaminated touch being taken care of now the turn of infected air. It’s not uncommon anymore to see people, mostly kids, wearing some kind of breathing mask while going to school. Masks do prevent a lot of airborne infection and I think in future it would become necessary too. Viruses entering our bodies through nose and mouth spend some time stuck in the fine nose hairs or mucous layer in throat. A saline gargle and nose cleaning (steam inhalation, aspiration,jal-neti, saline drops), after coming back home , can reduce the risk of infection to almost zero. One can also carry some warm water to keep sipping while outdoor. This washes the germs down to acidic gut and keeps the throat moist. This is one tradition which has stood the test of time.
Night-time Shower- Most of the Indians are very scared of taking a bath in the evening traditionally. No one gets sick by a hot warm bath inside a well-insulated and warm household. All the dirt, allergen and germs that are sticking to our hair and body should be washed away before sleeping else whole night we breathe them in slowly. Just like the wonder creams which work at night, the germs too get uninterrupted 8 hours to work. I once listened to an old lady who forbade me to take my usual shower after coming back from an outing in the city. The result was a full blown upper respiratory infection with high fever. A full-head shower with warm water works wonder, cleans, relaxes and cures insomnia too.
Put your socks on – Socks keep feet warm and clean. Remember granny’s used to tell us to keep our feet warm to avoid sneezes and catching cold. There is a direct relation between cold feet and cold. When Feet are cold brains goes into heat conservation mode and reduces blood flow to areas which loose more heat –like nose and sinus. Reduced blood flow means more vulnerable to viruses as germ fighting white blood cells too decrease. Often we relate walking barefoot to our culture but times change and viruses too.
Hot-Iron Clothes- In our sunny land we dry clothes outside and its good for environment too but with infections freely floating in air, clothes accumulate lot of them in a day. Some people use drier which is good to avoid germs accumulation. In Urban apartment living it’s not always possible to get direct sunlight for several hours to dry and disinfect clothes. In a shaded balcony it takes days to dry clothes sometimes giving more and more time to germs to collect. One can always use hot /steam ironing before wearing the cloths to kill dust mites ,some of the pathogens and fungal spores.
Remove Carpets/Soft Toys/ Plush furnishings– We have dusty and pollutant laden cities now. Carpets and other plush furnishings accumulate loads of dust and germs as they don’t get cleaned daily. Switching over to light cotton furnishings, rugs or coir rope mats can reduce infections a lot.
Say no to sugar- White sugar is known to decrease immunity. Sugar plays havoc with our immune system by depleting adrenal glands, and it has also been shown to slow down the mobility of white blood cells and reduce the production of certain disease-fighting hormones.
Most popular tip to avoid flu is to increase our vitamin intake and what we do is start drinking “No Added Sugar” fruit juice. Have you ever wondered that cartons after cartons, batches after batches year after year the juice tastes the same? Not even two fruits of one tree taste same. Switching from sugar to natural or traditional sweeteners is a game changer.
These may appear weird tips in comparison to popular immunity boosting, vitamin overload and herbal remedies but once started on these I got 95% reduction in colds and viral. Do try and see for yourself.