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How to fight the flu this winter

21 May 2019
We’re officially in the clutches of the cooler weather here in New Zealand, with the fresh temperatures bringing the inevitable sniffles, scratchy throats and throbbing headaches. We all know the traditional methods to beat the bugs, but experts are discovering new, and slightly peculiar ways you could flu-proof yourself this season.
How to fight the flu this winter

We’re snot kidding!

All those years of being told as a child to ‘get your finger out of there’ may have been working against you. Studies have found that while snot helps your body defend against respiratory infections, eating it forms a barrier in your mouth to help protect you from germs.

Researchers have even been creating synthetic mucus that can be added to toothpaste or chewing gum, predicting that the mucus may be a better, less intrusive alternative to antibiotics as a way to prevent infection.


Music to your ears

Everyone has that one special song that pumps them up when they’re feeling down, but what if there was more to it? Listening to music could potentially boost your immune system, according to Prof. Daniel J. Levitin of McGill University's Psychology Department. The professor led a review on the neurochemistry of music and found that it may be better for some issues than prescription medication.

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“We've found compelling evidence that musical interventions can play a health care role in settings ranging from operating rooms to family clinics," he says.

"But even more importantly, we were able to document the neurochemical mechanisms by which music has an effect in four domains: management of mood, stress, immunity, and as an aid to social bonding."

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Feel the earth move

Earthing or ‘grounding’ is based on the idea that by walking barefoot, you are connecting to the earth’s electrical energy, which promotes physical wellbeing.

A Journal of Inflammation Research study theorises that earthing can accelerate immune response and reduce inflammation because when your skin has direct contact with the surface of the earth, the earth’s free electrons spread over the body – these electrons have an antioxidant effect.

“Specifically, grounding an organism produces measurable differences in the concentrations of white blood cells, cytokines, and other molecules involved in the inflammatory response,” the study’s authors said.


Pick the right supplement

A 2017 study in The BMJ analysed data that showed that taking Vitamin D can help to reduce your risk of catching the dreaded flu. The study analysed nearly 11,000 people and found that those who took daily or weekly vitamin ‘D’ supplements were less likely to get influenza or the common cold.

It’s always wise to contact Healthline or your doctor if you feel that you may be coming down with the flu. Did you know you there are services available now that mean you can have a consultation with your doctor and get your sick note online? Check out our article here.


A drink a day to keep the flu away?

The Ministry of Health has recommendations for how we should moderate our intake of alcohol. But a study on monkeys back in 2013 reported that moderate alcohol intake, at least for monkeys, was associated with a boosted immune system.

“It seems that some of the benefits that we know of from moderate drinking might be related in some way to our immune system being boosted by that alcohol consumption.” These are the words of one of the authors of a 2013 study published in health journal, Vaccine. The study details research on how the immune systems of trained monkeys reacted to alcohol consumption over 14 months. Half of the monkeys received non-alcoholic drinks, while the others received an alcoholic version. All monkeys were vaccinated for small pox.

Researchers then measured how each monkey’s immune system reacted to the smallpox vaccine and found that the ‘heavy drinkers’ had an impaired immune response. However, the sobering discovery is that the moderate drinkers had a better response than all of the monkeys, even the ones who weren’t given any alcohol!

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Important things to know

Information correct as at May 2019

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