The flu… it’s how NOT to enjoy a day off.
I’ll do anything to avoid a flu. As a singer, losing my voice means losing my instrument. BAD. Also, I like being able to breathe without my chest or throat hurting!
Like in most health matters, prevention is key. So let’s talk about exactly how to avoid that clogged-up, throat-scratchy, sleepless, achy, coughy, feverish, nasty flu.
1. Do MILD cardio exercise for 30 minutes, 2 – 3x a week.
Notice I said MILD. Mild exercise is just enough to raise your heartbeat and to produce a light sweat. Strenuous exercise taxes your lungs, and though it can be fun in its way, extreme marathon style training won’t help you avoid flus. Moderate amounts of gentle exercise go a long way to rev up your respiratory and circulatory systems.
2. Don’t talk any more than you have to.
Feel a flu coming on? Maybe it’s not the time to answer the phone when you know your chatty friend is calling. Talking or singing when you don’t have to will irritate your airways and your voice box, so if you can take a temporary vow of silence, do so until the “I’m getting sick” feeling passes.
3. Suck on zinc lozenges after eating a meal.
I learned from a good doctor long ago that zinc lozenges (not swallowed pills) can shorten the duration of a flu or even prevent one altogether. When you get a scratchy feeling in your throat, postnasal drip, or that general low feeling of a flu coming on, find a zinc lozenge such as Sambucus, Cold-eeze, or Zicam, and after eating, suck on the lozenge until you get to the bad-tasting part where the zinc coats your throat. It is this thin coating of zinc that wreaks havoc upon the cold bacteria and/or flu virus trying to incubate in your air passages WITHOUT killing the good bacteria you desperately need to fight pathogens.
4. Use humidifiers
Using a mister or a humidifier is a very direct way of making sure the air you breathe isn’t going to dry you out. It’s also better for your skin not to be going around in dry, static-y air.
5. Use clove oil spray
I use a mixture of Thieves essential oil, vodka, and purified water to spritz onto rags and then wipe down germy surfaces, like my piano keys, but you can make your own essential oil sprays with any of these potent anti-viral and anti-bacterial essential oils:
6. Drink unsugared herbal tea
Herbal tea has almost zero calories per serving and is full of antioxidants that help ward off the inflammation that enables viruses and bacteria to camp out in your body. It also keeps you hydrated and satiated without caffeine or sugar.
7. Alkaline-ify your diet
Eating well is your number one defense against flus and colds. Whole, plant-based foods change the PH of your blood and swing you more towards the alkaline than the acid side, a optimum state in which flu viruses and cold bacteria cannot survive.
Acid-producing foods include most high sugar, low or no fiber, and/or processed/long-chemical ingredients foods, though not all.
Common acidic foods:
Meat and fish
Soda, diet soda, juice drinks, and energy drinks
Common alkaline foods:
Fruits, including citrus like lemons or oranges
Whole grains (oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa)
8. Get to bed
This one is a no-brainer, still, I think it bears reminding that not sleeping enough makes you vulnerable to colds and flus big time. Of course there is an app for getting to bed these days… it is called Bedtime and it is part of the clock/timer app on the iPhone in iOS10.