How to Prepare for Cold and Flu Season This Year

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Despite everyone’s fondest hopes, COVID-19 hasn’t disappeared. Worse, the cold and flu season is nearly here. What can you do to protect yourself and those you love?

When it comes to preparing for the cold and flu season this year, you want to take additional precautions to stay as healthy as possible. The following nine tips can help you keep yourself and your family healthier.

1. Consume More Zinc in Your Diet

Numerous studies have explored the connection between zinc and the common cold. A recent analysis of several studies confirmed that taking lozenges or syrup reduces this illness’s duration by a day. Why not start boosting your intake now? You can add more of this nutrient to your diet by eating more fish, legumes, nuts and seeds. Serve panko-breaded cod for Friday dinner, or sprinkle a handful of almonds or walnuts in your morning parfait.

2. Supplement With Vitamin C

Vitamin C is another nutrient that may reduce your chances of getting sick. You can find this vitamin in oranges, grapefruits and lemons — squeeze the juice of the latter into a cup of echinacea tea for best effect. You can even find intravenous injections if you have trouble absorbing nutrients due to IBS or Crohn’s disease. You can also take an over-the-counter supplement. Exercise caution — the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have the authority to review these products. Manufacturers remain responsible for safety, so it’s best to stick with brand names — they have a reputation to protect.

3. Make Your Plate a Rainbow

Phytonutrients refer to chemicals produced by plants, and many of them benefit human health. The same defenses that protect broccoli from UV radiation can help your cells fight off damaging free radicals. Science continues to investigate how these substances impact health. While research continues, how can you ensure you get a variety of types in your diet? You’re in luck — Mother Nature color-coded plants for you. The same chemicals that give food nutrient value also paint them in vibrant hues — add as many shades of fruits and vegetables to your plate as possible.

4. Get a Little Fishy

You already know that fish contain zinc reserves, but that isn’t the only property that makes them useful at staving off colds and flu. They also have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. These substances boost your heart health, but they also improve your mood. How does that help you fight germs? When you feel stressed, your body amps up cortisol production, a hormone that suppresses immune function over time. By decreasing cortisol levels, your body’s natural defense system functions more effectively.

5. Go Outside More Often

Will the wonders of plants never cease? Plants emit phytoncides, chemicals that fend off predators — and benefit human health. Research from Japan shows that individuals who took forest-bathing or shinrin-yoku trips had more natural killer cells (NKs) and less adrenaline after submerging themselves in nature. Your NK cells seek out and destroy invading pathogens that make you sick.

6. Change Your HVAC Filters

Can your home make you sick? If you haven’t changed your filters in months, quite possibly. Most experts recommend changing them at least quarterly, although you may need to do so more often if you have smokers or pets in your home. Bacteria and viruses get trapped in HVAC systems and blow through facilities each time you kick on the heat. What if you suspect you work in a dirty building? While you might not be able to authorize cleaning, you can add a houseplant to your desk to help filter toxins.

7. Give Your Home a Thorough Cleaning

Do you always get sick when your kids come home from school with the latest bug? Your house may need a thorough cleaning and disinfecting. Pay extra attention to frequently touched surfaces such as light switches, toilet handles, computer mice and television remotes. Make sure you use an EPA-approved disinfectant to protect against the novel coronavirus and other germs.

8. Stock Up on Essentials

Anytime you mingle with people, you run the risk of catching an infection from them. However, you can’t isolate yourself in a bubble. Make it a habit to snag an extra pack of masks or containers of hand sanitizer when you run to the store. That way, you always have ample stock on hand. Make a Costco run to stock up on plenty of orange juice and chicken-soup fixings if you do get ill.

9. Squirrel Away Your PTO

According to the CDC, you should quarantine yourself if you are exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This predicament presents quite the problem when your rent is due, you get paid hourly, and your landlord isn’t forgiving.

Stash away your paid leave if you are fortunate enough to get it. While some companies have expanded PTO in light of the pandemic, many have not. You don’t want to expose others, but you don’t want to go hungry or lose your electricity.

Prepare Yourself for Cold and Flu Season This Year With These 9 Tips

The 2020 cold and flu season promises a roller coaster ride. Prepare yourself for the season this year with the nine tips above. And don’t forget your flu shot!

Jennifer Landis is a proud mama who fuels her fire with copious amounts of tea. She writes about food, family, and fitness. Find more from her at her personal blog, Mindfulness Mama and follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.

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