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Flu Season Worse than Predicted - Protect Yourself With or Without the Flu Shot

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
By Danielle Tworek, Nutrionist

Get the flu shot.

Don’t get the flu shot.

Whichever you choose, you’re going to need to employ healthy strategies to protect yourself.

The flu vaccine doesn’t make you invincible to the flu. Epidemiologists analyze data months in advance in an attempt to determine which strain will be the most active come January – the peak of flu season.

This year, experts suspect that the vaccine won’t offer much protection. Cases of the flu are rising at alarming rates and nearly 50% of cases are the H3N2 strain of the virus, the strain not included in the 2014 vaccine. This is a frightening fact considering that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited in a healthy advisory, “During past seasons when influenza A (H3N2) viruses have predominated, higher overall and age-specific hospitalization rates and more mortality have been observed, especially among older people, very young children, and persons with certain chronic medical conditions.”

And, even if the “correct” strain had been included in this year’s vaccination, there would still be trouble. Researchers say that the H3N2 strain has changed genetically, rendering the vaccine less effective.

There’s no need to panic – the flu vaccine isn’t the only way to protect yourself from the flu, and in fact, it should never take place of healthy habits, like proper sanitation habits, eating a healthy diet and routine exercise.

While hand sanitizer may have surpassed chewing gum as the top-selling impulse buy at the checkout counter, it is no substitute for good old-fashioned hand washing with soap and water. According to the CDC guidelines, washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce your risk of exposure to bacterial and viral pathogens. Hand sanitizers offer broad spectrum protection, but to a lesser extent.

Alpha32 Daily MultivitaminYou can take your protective habits one step further by wearing a face mask. This will offer an added layer of protection—far better than hand sanitizer—since the flu virus is spread most commonly through the air. Such “extreme” measures are recommended for immunocompromised members of the population, the elderly, young children and those with certain medical conditions.

There is no guaranteed defense against the flu, but a healthy lifestyle can boost your immune system and lower your susceptibility to the virus. Dr. David Brownstein, renowned holistic physician, offers a number of tips to promote staying healthy and well all year long.

Wash your hands. If you haven’t realized by now – hand washing is the single most important habit for protecting yourself from germs. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Ideally, you should wash your hands after using the bathroom; before, during and after food prep; before eating and following exposure to “germy” situations, like taking out the garbage, shaking hands or walking the dog.
Sanitize your “must-haves.” There are items that you “must-have” with you wherever you go – keys, cellphone, laptop, purses, totes, briefcases and backpacks. We often don’t think about the germs these items can collect, but if they never leave your side, odds are, they’re teeming with germs. One study found that the bottom of a woman’s handbag often host more germs than a public toilet seat. Depending on the material, make an effort to wash these items at least once a week. For keys, cellphones and bags that can’t take the washing machine, heavy duty sanitizing wipes will suffice. For fabric items, toss in the washing machine.
Be active. While it is true that the local gym is likely a germ hot-spot, working out is still good for your health. Working up a sweat can help your body get rid of toxins and boost your immune system function. At the very least, aim for 30 minutes or more 5 days per week.
Eat a balanced diet. It has long be said that food can be the best medicine or slowest form of poison. What you eat, can significantly impact your body’s ability to fight off illness and disease. A diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as lean meats and a few whole grains can arm you with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that will allow your body to perform optimally.
Add supplements for extra support. Nutrient depleted soil, busy, stressful lives and less-than-ideal eating habits can limit access and absorption to crucial vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Even a “perfect” diet can use extra support. Nutritional supplements, like a quality multivitamin, can deliver a comprehensive range of nutrients to ideally support your health and everyday life.

Dr. David Brownstein Medix Select

Dr. David Brownstein is a board-certified family physician, renowned holistic practitioner, and editor of Dr. David Brownstein's Natural Way to Health newsletter.


Dr. Chauncey Crandall Medix Select

Dr. Chauncey Crandall is one of America’s most sought after Cardiologists, has performed over 40,000 heart procedures, and is editor of Dr. Crandall’s Heart Health Report.


Dr. Russell Blaylock Medix Select


Dr. Russell Blaylock is a nationally recognized board-certified neurosurgeon, health practitioner, author, and lecturer and editor of Dr. Blaylock’s The Blaylock Wellness Report.

Dr. Erika Schwartz Medix Select

Erika Schwartz, M.D. is a leading national expert on wellness, disease prevention, and bioidentical hormone therapies and editor of Dr. Erika's Healthy Balance.


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