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5 bizarre ways to flu-proof yourself – that have science backing them!

4 minute read
Young woman with the flu

It’s official; winter is here and in some parts of Australia, the temperatures are colder than a White Walker’s heart.

Along with the chill, inevitably comes an onslaught of coughs, sniffles and head-colds, so if you’re looking for some more creative ways to beat the flu this season, here are five options that you’ve probably never heard of before… and they actually have some science behind them!

1. Picking your nose… and eating it!

Be prepared for a major gross-out; studies have found that not only can snot help your body defend against respiratory infections, but eating your own snot forms a physical barrier in your mouth to help protect you from germs.

In fact, researchers are so confident in the health benefits of boogers, they’re engineering synthetic mucus that can be added to toothpaste or chewing gum.

Eating your own snot forms a physical barrier in your mouth to help protect you from germs

2. Have a drink (in moderation)

A study published in health journal, Vaccine suggests that an alcoholic drink a day may help you stave off the flu by boosting your immune system. The research involved giving trained monkeys a steady supply of ‘cocktails’ for 14 months. Half of the monkeys received non-alcoholic drinks, while the others received an alcoholic version. All monkeys were vaccinated for small pox. The monkeys reacted differently to the alcohol – some binged, while others sipped.

Researchers then measured how each of the monkey’s immune system reacted to the smallpox vaccine and found that the ‘heavy drinkers’ had an impaired immune response. However, the moderate drinkers had a better response than all of the monkeys – even the sober ones!

“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,” the study’s authors said.

3. Pump some tunes

We all know that listening to certain music makes us feel good, but did you know that it could also boost your immune system? Prof. Daniel J. Levitin of McGill University's Psychology Department led a review covering 400 scientific papers on the neurochemistry of music and found that it may be better for some issues than prescription medication.

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

"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."

For more on music therapy, check out our article Using sick beats to make you better.

Music can effect your mood, stress and immunity and helps you bond with others

4. ‘Earthing’

Earthing or ‘grounding’ is based on research that shows connecting to the earth’s electrical energy promotes physical wellbeing - all you have to do is take off your shoes and walk barefoot on the beach, in the bush or on the grass.

A study published in the Journal of Inflammation Research shows that earthing can accelerate immune response and reduce inflammation. It’s hypothesised that this is because when your skin has contact with the surface of the earth, the earth’s 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.

Couple blowing their nose because they didn't flu-proof themselves

5. Dose up on the ‘D’

Vitamin C has long been the ‘go-to’ when trying to avoid a cold, but it’s Vitamin D that has actually been proven to reduce your risk of getting the flu. A study published in The BMJ looked at the data of 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.

Above all else, the best way to protect yourself from the flu is by getting a flu shot. If you’re fit, healthy and haven’t had anything more serious than a chest cold in years, you might be questioning the value of the flu vaccine. Is it really worth the hassle?

With experts warning Australia is facing a deadly flu season with three times more people diagnosed with the virus so far this year than in 2018, the short answer is yes.

For more information, check out our article on everything you need to know about the 2019 flu vaccine.

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