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How to Naturally Prevent the Flu
You can get the flu or a cold any time of year. But cold and flu season (generally considered November through March in the United States) is when becoming a victim of the flu is most common.
There are several methods you can employ to help prevent getting sick from the flu.
1. Avoid infected people. This is, of course, easier said than done. For anyone who works, goes to school, goes shopping, or takes a vacation, interacting with other people is fairly common. Try to stay at least 3 feet away from anybody who appears sick or is actively coughing or sneezing. But remember, that people who look healthy can still be able to spread the germs. A recent study even showed that people could infect others simply by breathing (without coughing or sneezing), so you can't just avoid people who appear sick. Avoiding infected people is admittedly very difficult. But as much as is practical, be aware of the people around you and understand the exposure risks that come from other people.
2. Clean surfaces regularly. Doors, door handles, phone chargers, light switches, railings, shopping carts, and other surfaces are all magnets for germs. Whenever possible, clean or wipe them down regularly with a bleach wipe or disinfectant spray. When out in public, you can also do your best to avoid direct contact with these surfaces. Where possible, use your elbow or hips to open doors and avoid touching handrails.
3. Strengthen your immune system. During cold and flu season, do your best to boost your immune system. Get enough sleep, exercise, enjoy some sunshine and fresh air, avoid sugar, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Whatever you do to strengthen your immune system will help you to avoid or shorten your time with the flu.
4. Avoid touching your nose, eyes, and mouth. Germs on the surface of your skin won't get you sick unless the germs come in contact with the mucous membranes in your nose, eyes, and mouth. Avoiding touching your face (unless you've recently washed your hands properly) is a great way to avoid getting sick.
5. Wash your hands often. One of the best-proven methods to avoid getting sick is to properly wash your hands regularly and often.
Soap doesn’t kill bacteria (unless it is antibacterial soap which is only used in hospitals and is not available for home use). Instead, it removes the germs from your skin. That's why it's so important to wash your hands properly.
Soap molecules are hydrophilic (water-loving) at one end and hydrophobic (dirt/oil-loving) at the other end. When you wash your hands with soap, the dirt and oil stick to the hydrophobic end of the soap molecule. Then when you rinse your hands, the hydrophilic end of the soap sticks to the water and it all gets washed down the drain.
To wash your hands properly, follow these steps:
- Use clean water to wet your hands
- Use good soap
- Lather for 20-30 seconds
- Rinse well with clean, running water
- Dry hands with a clean paper towel.
If you think that these instructions are too basic, consider that recent studies show the average hand-washing time is only about six seconds. Six seconds is not long enough to attach all the dirt and oil and germs and wash them down the drain.
So make sure you are washing your hands for a long enough time period - especially during cold and flu season. Time yourself if needed. These tips are useful for anyone but are especially helpful when teaching children to use proper hygiene practices.
Most people also do not wash their hands frequently enough. You should wash your hands whenever you've come into contact with any person or surface that might be infected and especially when handling food or caring for a sick person.
Because staying healthy requires frequent hand washing, be sure to use a soap that isn't drying out your skin. Skin that is rough or chapped or cracked is more likely to spread infection.
Goat milk soap is a wonderful way to wash your hands, get rid of germs, and still keep your skin soft, moisturized, and in good shape. As always, we encourage you to work hard, get dirty, use good soap. And stay healthy this cold and flu season!