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5 Surprising Ways to Prevent This Year's Nasty Flu

by Jacqueline Burt on January 10, 2013 at 7:50 PM

5 tricks to fend off the fluBy now, you've no doubt heard all about how this year's flu epidemic is reaching, well, epidemic proportions. And besides being widespread, sounds like it ain't a pretty strain (or strains) of flu this time around, either. Maybe you've already experienced the flu, maybe you were first in line for the flu shot, maybe you're contemplating getting a flu shot but your doctor is wiped out of stock ... whatever your current flu status, you're probably wondering what else you can do to prevent the flu (or any of the other nasty bugs lurking out there).

Thankfully, there are some measures you can take to protect yourself and your family, and they really do work -- although some of these tips might take you by surprise.

1. Practice "respiratory etiquette"

It's the new catchphrase used by hospitals and other professional healthcare facilities, and it's pretty much an updated version of the old common sense rules: Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm soap and water, especially before eating, etc., plus interesting new info about disinfecting surfaces (cold and flu germs can live for HOURS outside the body) and be sure not to share ANYTHING, even towels, with someone who's sick.

2. Gargle with Warm Salt Water

I swear my grandmother is looking down from Heaven and laughing at me right now, because this was her go-to advice whenever I got sick as a kid (and I HATED it). But people who gargle with water a few times a day are one-third less likely to catch colds; salt and warm water once you're already sick helps clear the virus out of your throat.

3. Drink hot tea with honey and lemon.

Again, old common sense wisdom backed up by modern science -- hot drinks "stimulate digestion, ease cold and flu symptoms, and give your immune system an extra kick," honey (particularly darker varieties) has such strong antimicrobial properties it's been shown to reduce risk of flu infection, and lemon adds Vitamin C and antioxidants.

4. Use a nasal spray or neti pot.

These work the same way gargling does, except personally I don't mind these as much (I seem to be in the minority with this preference, however!).

5. Try brewer's yeast.

This time, it's my mother who's laughing at me. Apparently sprinkling a teaspoon of brewer's yeast on your food every day can really boost the heck out of your immune system, which is why, I suppose, my mother did exactly that to her food when I was a kid (personally, I hated the smell and wouldn't touch the stuff). Sigh. You were right, Mom.

Do you have any surprising ways to keep protect your family from the flu?


Image via boo lee/Flickr

Filed Under: cold & flu, healthy habits, natural health, preventative medicine


  • MaryC...


    January 11, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    My Nana always put nutmeg in the lemon/honey tea, I guess it's an ancient Korean secret or something.

  • Melan...


    January 11, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    People who are sick enough to stay home from work often still  go to grocery and drug stores at their most contagious stage so I try to cut down on trips to those during flu season.     Stock up on the flu/cold things before the season so you don't have to go to the drug stores at all.    Try to plan grocery shopping ahead so you can minimize the time you have to be there.   

    I always make a point of observing that a co-worker who comes to work sick isn't being responsible.   Sure they're working sick but if they make everyone sick it hurts overall productivity.   It's good to establish a work environment where that's clear rather than one that rewards those who come to work sick.

  • jagam...


    January 11, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    Elderberry syrup. Make your own. :) Eat lots of veggies. Cut back on sugar. 

    Along with all those listed and the common sense tip above to stay home when you're sick, when you do feel something coming on, start eating lots of garlic. Clear soups loaded with veggies and smoothies loaded with fruits and veggies like pineapple, oranges, kale, ginger, lemon juice, a little bit of apple cider vinegar, etc. And chicken soup. Good, homemade chicken soup where you boil an entire chicken in some broth with lots of garlic, onion, fresh thyme, celery, and carrots. Pull off the meat and add it back in. It will be the best chicken soup ever. You'll want to swim in the bowl.  

    I felt something coming on Wednesday of last week. Started drinking hot tea with lemon and honey (local, raw honey) or an apple cider vinegar/lemon/honey drink, and gargling with salt water. Thursday it had arrived. I had the scratchy and sore throat, lots of mucus, yadda yadda. Still kept up with the tea and gargling, a big smoothie, and I made that chicken soup for dinner. When I woke up Friday I felt just fine again.

  • hexxuss


    January 11, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    How about "stay home & don't spread it around"?

  • femal...


    January 11, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    I heard manuka honey (organic, you need to find a specialty store and can cost up to 24.99)  is really really good for the immune system.  To me its worth it.  I take a tablespoon a day. I ran out though. :(

    Hospitals have been using it on open wounds.

  • Freela


    January 11, 2013 at 5:06 PM

    Handwashing- lots and lots of handwashing!

  • jessi...


    January 11, 2013 at 5:40 PM

    Lots of washing hands , cover coughs and sneezes 

  • Tracys2


    January 11, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    Remember that you are contagious for days before you come down with the first symptoms, and for even a mild cold, are contagious 4-6 days, for the flu between 1 and 2 weeks.

    The first can not be avoided, and the second, almost no workplace will permit- especially several times a year. Plus, all the single parents without support (a vast number) have to go out occasionally to shop as well. So, secondary precautions are always wise.

  • Annab...


    January 11, 2013 at 7:53 PM
    Young Living's Thieves essential oil blend!!! It kills MRSA & has been used for centuries (called thieves because of grave robbers who used it during plague epidemic of 17th century). I diffuse it during my son's recent stint in PICU & EVERY person that came in his room commented on it. I passed around the brochure & sold a couple bottles! 6 different local hospitals are even using it in their NICUnits! See Gary Young's videos on YouTube. Therapeutic grade essential oils have changed our lives!
  • Tina
    -- Nonmember comment from


    January 12, 2013 at 11:05 PM
    Place a peeled onion around your house. It has been proven to absorb bacteria and viruses.
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