During one of my lectures today, I couldn’t hear my lecturer due to the mass of coughing, sneezing and nose blowing. Fresher’s flu has hit!
One of my housemates, a seasoned second-year, told me that it was inevitable I would get fresher’s flu. But I disagree. Follow my tips to remain flu-free, and if you do happen to succumb to the illness, I shall attempt to aid you to get rid of it quickly.
The key to preventing fresher’s flu is helping your immune system. One of the reasons this lurgy passes around everyone is that, after a week/fortnight of drinking every night, late nights and those post night out kebabs, your immune system will probably be at an all time low. I am a biology student and so I understand the immune system and know just how to give it a boost so it can fight off the flu.
It seems obvious, but it’s all too tempting when you’re tired to just order a pizza or go to the chippy. However, healthy eating is key to keeping your immune in check.
You need sufficient protein from meats, fish, poultry, cheese, eggs or milk, this is because proteins are made up of amino acids which are called ‘the building blocks of life’, and the more building blocks your body has available from the digestion of protein, the easier it becomes to build more proteins which can be used to make antibodies or to help fight the illness.
Fruit and vegetables
An Apple a Day… There is actually truth in the saying that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. At this time of year, you will be able to find windfalls and even in the most urban of campuses you are never far from a blackberry bush. Apple and blackberry isn’t just for crumbles: make a compote and put it over natural yoghurt for breakfast.
Tomatoes contain lycopene which is an essential carotenoid which is used by the lymphatic system to help fight an incoming illness. They also contain Vitamin C which is useful when fighting a cold.
Citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, papaya and grapefruit also contain large amounts of vitamin c and are hence useful when preventing a cold or flu.
Rosehips contain 50 percent more vitamin C than oranges, and they are FREE! I regularly have rosehip jelly (post will be coming soon), which is great spread on vegetables before roasting. Rosehip syrup is easy to make and a spoonful a day makes a perfect tonic.
Garlic has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties so is an excellent combat to a cold. Try roasting a few cloves of garlic still in their papery covering in the oven until soft and gooey – this makes them sweet and utterly delicious. Make sure you remove their papery covering before eating. This is great as an accompaniment with a roast dinner or with mash or jacket potatoes.
Ginger is one of my favourite things no matter whether I have a cold or not, but its also very beneficial to your health. Ginger has a similar effect to a decongestant and helps relieve the symptoms of colds and flu, such as a blocked nose. Headache? Then the prostaglandin in ginger will relieve pain and inflammation in blood vessels and hence it relieves a migraine. Ginger also helps the body to absorb other nutrients such as the vitamin C which aids your immune system in combatting a cold. Personally, I love having ginger, lemon and honey tea, it gives an instant relief to cold and flu symptoms and taste great! Chop fresh ginger into slices with a squeeze of lemon and a teaspoon of honey and pour boiling water over it for a amazingly refreshing tea and, during illness, try to drink it as much as possible (pour it into a flask and take it with you to lectures).
Apple cider vinegar I’ve recently written a blog post on The Virtues of Vinegar about the many uses of apple cider vinegar, one of which was for boosting the immune system. A couple of tablespoons a day in water or taken as shots can dramatically increase your immune system due to its antimicrobial, antioxidant and antibacterial properties, as well as beta-carotene.
This is essential! Sleep is necessary for your immune system to stay healthy. Lack of sleep has been directly linked to a low immune system and hence a cold.
Drink plenty of water – drink water as if it’s your job! Make sure the water is room temperature or warm as if too hot or cold as it can shock your throat and make it worse. Water is essential for flushing out toxins and replacing lost fluids from a fever and from respiratory tract evaporation.
Alcohol dehydrates the body and also impairs your white blood cells ability to combat viruses, so is one to avoid when you have fresher’s flu. This may be difficult when freshers’ week is in full swing and all your housemates are also drinking, but think about the benefits on your body. It will honestly thank you in the morning.
Living on your own and having to do your own washing can be a chore, but don’t be tempted to wear the same shirt over and over again as you haven’t done your washing! With hundreds of people in a lecture, germs are easily transfered all around the room and the bacteria is likely to fester on your T-shirt. Since most microbes can still infect for at least 24 hours, it is in your best interest to wash your clothes.