Combating Cold and Flu Viruses This Season
Healthy Cold and Flu Season Tips
Written by Scientific Director and Pharmacist Jerry Hickey
How is the flu virus spread?
Usually, the flu virus is spread through droplet infection – sneezing and coughing. Breathing in droplets expelled into the air by an infected person's cough is the most common route. These droplets can land in your eyes or become inhaled into your nose. In addition, if they land on your face and you then touch your mouth, eyes, or nose, you may become infected with the flu virus.
Here are some tips to avoid contracting the flu virus:
- Consciously avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth during flu season. The virus is easily spread if a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Always wash your hands immediately after shaking hands with someone who is coughing and sneezing.
- The flu virus is easily spread through saliva. Avoid sharing cups, glasses or utensils as much as possible during flu season.
How long does the flu virus last on inanimate surfaces?
The flu virus can last long enough on objects outside of the human body to contribute to spreading infection. Studies have shown that flu viruses generally can survive on surfaces (such as phone receivers and doorknobs) between 2 to 8 hours, depending on the environment. Washing your hands frequently with soap and water will help protect you from contracting the flu this way. Alcohol wipes and hand sanitizers can help disinfect hands as well as surfaces if they’ve been touched by someone infected with the flu virus.
What is the incubation period for the flu?
Once the flu virus is introduced into your system, the virus multiplies quietly in your body until symptoms of the disease begin to show. This takes about two to five days and is referred to as the incubation period. The flu is most contagious at the peak of the infection, when symptoms like sneezing and coughing are the most active.
How long is the flu virus contagious?
Usually the flu virus is contagious for five to seven days in adults. Young children can be contagious for as long as ten days to two weeks. According to the CDC, people with compromised (lowered) immune systems – such as people with AIDS or people taking drugs to prevent transplant rejection – can spread the flu virus for weeks or months after infection.
Besides the flu shot and prescription antiviral drugs, are there nutrients that may help protect me from the flu virus?
Numerous clinical studies show that NAC and Green Tea may decrease the risk of developing upper respiratory tract infections, including the flu (NAC and Green Tea) and cold viruses (Green Tea).
NAC is a stable form of the amino acid Cysteine. It is used by the body to make glutathione, a very important antioxidant. Studies show that people with illnesses associated with a breakdown of the immune system are often deficient in glutathione. Taking NAC throughout flu and cold season has been shown to decrease the risk of contracting the flu in both college-aged and elderly subjects. NAC is mucolytic; meaning it has the added benefit of helping to break up mucous.
Green Tea contains organic compounds with antiviral properties that can help to battle influenza strains. Green tea supplements in capsule form may prevent some cold and flu symptoms, and green tea in liquid form can help to relieve nasal congestion.
The following nutrients also help to support immune system function and may improve resistance to the flu virus:
Medicinal Mushrooms such as Maitake mushroom, Shiitake mushroom, and Reishi mushroom can help strengthen the immune system by activating or modulating T-cell function, NK cells, macrophages, T-lymphocytes, and cytokines supporting your ability to resist infection.
Astragalus Herb is a legume that enhances immune function by increasing the activity of certain white blood cells which, in turn, leads to greater production of antibodies. It also increases the production of interferon, an anti-viral agent naturally produced by the body. In addition to enhancing immunity, Astragalus has antibacterial, adaptogenic, anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects. It owes most of its immune-enhancing effects to polysaccharides, a group of complex sugars responsible for initiating the immune response. For best results, take astragalus prior to infection if you’ve come in contact with an infected person.
Nucleotides are found in abundance in each of the body’s trillion-plus cells. Nucleotides are tiny building blocks of RNA and DNA. RNA and DNA serve as the blueprints for every cell in the body. Nucleotides provide the raw material to dramatically increase white blood cell production. The immune system can then deploy its army of white blood cells to readily take down any invaders. Research shows that nucleotides can significantly diminish the symptoms and duration of the common cold. In research trials, nearly all patients on a therapeutic course of nucleotides reported significantly less discomfort associated with cold symptoms, and a substantially accelerated recovery. Research also shows that nucleotides balance immune function, by increasing the ability to fight infection. In terms of the flu, nucleotides work best to improve recovery from the virus.
Olive Leaf contains a biologically active compound called Oleuropein, which has strong antibacterial and antiviral properties. Specifically, it disrupts the growth of bacteria and viruses and also benefits the activity of important cells. Olive leaf extract has been shown to be effective against virtually all of the viruses and bacteria on which it has been tested. Laboratory studies suggest that olive leaf extract interferes with the establishment and spread of viral infection, either by rendering viruses incapable of infecting cells or by preventing them from reproducing.
Assisting Scientific Director and Pharmacist Jerry Hickey is a team of nutritional professionals - a group of hand chosen, dedicated experts, available at each and every InVite® Health retail location - there to provide you with a FREE, personalized, and professional nutritional consultation. Visit an InVite® Health retail location near you for assistance in selecting the correct nutrients to address your health concerns.