Q: I got the flu shot back in November, but I just came down with a fever, runny nose, dry cough, and I feel achy all over. Can I still catch the flu even if I got the shot?
A: The flu shot doesn’t protect you from all strains of the flu. There are ways, though, other than getting the flu vaccine, to reduce your risk that you may not have tried.
According to Vancouver-based nutrition expert Lorna Vanderhaeghe (who hasn’t caught a cold or flu in the past 11 years), “one of the simplest way to protect against the flu is to wash your hands frequently throughout the day.” When you’re working in an office, and a coworker who is sick has opened a door you also just touched, and you then absentmindedly touch the corner of your eye, for example, you’ve just welcomed the virus into your body. So regular soap and water can be your best line of defense.
Vanderhaeghe also promotes drinking lots of water during the winter months. “When you’re dehydrated, the fluid around your eyes, nose and mouth don’t work as well at fighting against bacteria entering your body,” she says.
She also advises including a good balance of antioxidant-rich veggies and fruits in your diet, too. Opt for dark vegetables (think broccoli, kale, and brussel sprouts) and fruits, such as berries (since berries have higher concentrations of antioxidants, but less sugar compared to a peach, for example). “Sugar consumption has been been shown to suppress your immune system,” says Vanderhaeghe.
Last, but not least, she recommends keeping a medicine cabinet stocked with Echinacea and zinc chewables for when you do fall under the weather. “The secret is to take them right at the onset—when your throat feels scratchy, for example. These remedies will not prevent you from getting sick, but will shorten the duration.”
Need expert health and fitness advice? Ask Karen
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