People are told that in order to avoid the flu, they need to avoid being in contact with the virus. But considering that an average person touches at least 300 different surfaces every 30 minutes, it seems impossible to NOT be in contact with an infectious virus at all. A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan dispels this common myth. The study confirms that it is not the flu virus that determines whether or not you get the flu, but your immune system.
An Active Immune Response Helps You Avoid the Flu
The study observed 17 healthy people who were infected with the flu virus, and discovered that only half of them became sick while the other half felt perfectly fine.
Professor Alfred Hero of the University of Michigan, College of Engineering tells MSNBC:
“Many people might conclude that if you are exposed to a virus and you don’t get sick, it’s because the virus didn’t stick or it was so weak, it just passed right through your system and your system didn’t notice. That’s not a correct notion … There is an active immune response which accounts for the resistance of certain people getting sick, and that response is just as active as the response we all know and hate, which is being sick with the sniffles, fever, coughing and sneezing. It’s just that the responses are different.” (link)
The researchers also noted that even if you don’t “notice” the flu, your immune system does. Changes in the blood took place 36 hours before the flu symptoms appeared. Everyone had an immune response, whether or not they felt sick.
Easy Tips to Boost Your Immune System
Dr. Joseph Mercola says that healthy lifestyle choices factor greatly when it comes to lowering your risk of coming down with a cold, flu, or other illnesses. Being healthy strengthens your immune system, and therefore makes it less possible for infectious diseases to affect your health.
Here are Dr. Mercola’s top five tips to boost your immune system:
- Optimize your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D helps fight infections, including the flu. It creates up to 200 antimicrobial peptides, including cathelicidin, a naturally-occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic.
- Eat plenty of raw food. Dr. Mercola recommends locally-grown and biodynamic foods, like raw eggs and organic, naturally-raised meats.
- Avoid sugar and fructose. These can increase your insulin and leptin levels, which are connected to a higher risk of sickness and premature aging.
- Get sufficient exercise. It improves the circulation of immune cells in your blood, which neutralizes pathogens and better defends your body.
- Avoid stress. Stress greatly impacts your immune system function. This is why stressed people are more likely to get sick.
Proper and regular handwashing also helps reduce your risk of getting an infection. Use regular soap and water instead of antibacterial varieties.
How About Flu Shots?
Dr. Mercola says that you have the freedom to choose whether or not you should get a flu vaccination. However, he reminds you of these important facts:
- Flu vaccinations are notoriously ineffective against the flu, as proven in many studies.
- All vaccines are immune suppressive, with effects that may last for weeks or months. They can put you at a higher risk of getting the flu or another infectious disease.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that only 20 percent of flu-like illnesses are actually caused by influenza type A or B. The other 80 percent are caused by over 200 other bugs that can make you feel just as sick, such as bocavirus, respiratory syncytial virus, coronavirus, and rhinovirus. The flu shot is ineffective for these other viruses—only your healthy immune system can overcome them.
- If you are infected with influenza but maintain a good immune response, you are likely to recover quickly without serious complications. You will also become naturally immune to that particular influenza strain.
Instead of getting a flu shot, stick to the healthy lifestyle changes above to boost your immune system to help avoid the dreaded flu virus.