The road back to health after flu can be a particularly long one. Here we explain what you should be doing to build up your immune system and fight off any lingering effects.
Have a Turkish bath: The flu virus can linger in the body for five to six weeks after the symptoms have cleared. According to Professor Ron Eccles, a specialist in cold and flu research, the heat of a Turkish bath can steam out the virus, which thrives in a cold nose, from the body.
Place a bowl of water near a radiator: The water will moisten the air, which will then be easier to breathe, especially for those who develop a secondary infection such as sinusitis, which is a common problem leading on from flu or a heavy cold.
Eat kiwi fruit: Kiwi fruit are an even better source than oranges for vitamin C, which is essential to the immune system. They also contain a supply of B vitamin folic acid, essential for healthy red blood cells.
Eat yoghurt: The bacteria contained in yoghurt aids digestion, according to Di Goodwin, a homoeopathic consultant. It clears out mucus.
Get some sun: Sunlight can boost your energy and mood and a lack of it can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder or ‘winter blues’.
Eat garlic: Garlic contains natural antibacterial and antiviral properties which help prevent colds, flu and resulting secondary infections. For best results add four cloves of fresh garlic to food daily. If you don’t like the taste, try odourless garlic capsules. Garlic can also help to break up mucus so it makes a good decongestant if crushed in hot water and inhaled.
Drink honey and lemon: Honey has antibacterial and sedative properties. A glass of hot water with a teaspoonful of honey and lemon will help you to sleep.
Take zinc: Zinc is vital for helping the immune system to fight infections and is found naturally in meat, seafood and peanuts.
Eat ginger: Ginger helps stimulate circulation and promotes sweating, which eliminates toxins. A raised body temperature also helps to kill germs and give the immune system a chance to fight back. Ginger, therefore, hastens recovery. A ground teaspoonful added to foods should do the trick.
Drink green tea: This contains catechin, a bioflavonoid which aids the liver and is a strong antioxidant. It assists detoxification and boosts to the immune system.
Take plenty of fluids: Fluids help maintain the mucus production and secretion into the airways to dispel the cold. Drink at least one to two litres a day. Have plenty of hot drinks because viruses thrive on mixed temperatures, so the heat will help to kill them off more quickly.
Go swimming: Take a gentle swim following a cold.
Avoid stress: Doctors now blame stress for lowering our immune system and making us susceptible to a whole range of infections.
Avoid junk food: A poor diet lowers the immune system and won’t boost your energy levels. Choose hot, tasty soups which will wash out the virus and help to thin out mucus secretions from the nose and airways. The more tasty they are the more effective they will be, because the taste promotes salivation and secretion in the airways.
Eat too many dairy foods: Dairy products can contribute to catarrh and excess mucus in the nose.
Exercise too hard: Only walk or swim when you have just recovered. But too much strenuous exercise then can stress the body. Mild yoga will flush out toxins built up in the body.
Eat too much sugary food: Foods such as cakes, biscuits and sweets cause a build-up of mucus and reduce the effectiveness of the immune system. Hot spicy foods such as curries and chilli are good because they will help to flush out the virus. They open the sinuses and break up mucus, helping to reduce congestion.
Drink coffee: Coffee will sap your energy. It contains chemicals that merely give a short-term energy boost, followed by a slump two or three hours later.
Drink alcohol: It depletes the body’s levels of vitamin C and strips the body of nutrients it is likely to be craving after fighting off a virus.
Burn the candle at both ends: Sleep is vital to recovery, as the chances are you will not have been able to sleep properly when ill. Ensure that you relax thoroughly for at least two hours before heading to bed, and try to add about an hour to your normal sleep pattern for at least a fortnight.