Now that the holidays are behind us, the cold and flu season is in full swing. No matter where you go, whether it’s the grocery store, the bank, or the dentist, invisible germs are lurking on the surfaces of almost everything you touch. This winter, it doesn’t matter if you are in school, at the office, or even in your own home, you’ll likely be exposed to someone who is sniffling, sneezing, and coughing. According to the CDC, last year was one of the worst recent years on record for the flu. Even those who got a flu shot weren’t immune, although they were less likely to get sick. With all of the immunity boosters you see advertised, is it possible that drinking water could be just as effective to prevent the flu?
An Ounce of Prevention
One of the simplest things you can do to help prevent catching a cold or the flu is to drink plenty of fluids. It may sound like an old wives’ tale, but making sure you stay hydrated really is the first line of defense to beat the dreaded winter bugs. A recent study showed that proper hydration may increase an immune response that enables your body to protect itself when exposed to germs and viruses.
One of the reasons people can get dehydrated this time of the year is because the air is drier, especially the heated indoor air. This not only contributes to dehydration, but it can also dry out your eyes, nose, and mouth. Drinking water, herbal tea, and juice can all help to keep your body hydrated and functioning properly. Your body needs to be healthy and strong if it’s going to fight off cold germs and flu viruses.
Drink Water for Immunity
Drinking water is important for every function of the body. Keeping the body functioning at its best is an important part of keeping the immune system strong. One of the ways that drinking water helps your body fight infection is by keeping the mucous membranes in the nose moist. The moisture helps trap infectious particles before they can make their way to your lungs and get you sick. If your nose is dry, the membranes aren’t nearly as effective.
How Much Water to Drink to Prevent the Flu
The minimum recommendation for drinking water to prevent the flu is the standard eight, 8-ounce glasses of fluid per day. Studies have shown that those who drink any less than that are at a higher risk for catching the flu and having flu-like symptoms such as sinus issues or a sore throat. It was also reported that those who drank more than eight glasses of water after catching the flu or a cold were able to recover more quickly.
What Kind of Water Should You Drink?
While any fluid is going to help hydrate you, some are better than others. The best choice, if you are drinking more fluids to help prevent illness, is plain unflavored water. Depending on how you are feeling, you may want to heat up the water or add ice. The steam from a hot cup of water can help to sooth congested sinuses while ice water may be more soothing for a sore throat. You can also add some lemon and honey – lemon thins mucus which can help relieve congestion and honey has antibacterial properties.
While fruit juice may taste good, you should drink it in moderation because of the high sugar content. Excess sugar can cause inflammation which may make you feel worse. Citrus juices, like orange juice, can actually aggravate sore throats. If you’re really craving something with more flavor than water, try an herbal tea. Many brands even offer special formulations to help with cold and flu symptoms. You should avoid caffeinated drinks, like coffee and colas, and alcohol, as these tend to cause dehydration.
Water Quality Counts
If you are drinking water to prevent the flu, you want to be sure that the water you are drinking is safe. If your immune system is weakened due to an illness, your body may not be able to fight contaminants. Poor quality water can contain anything from bacteria to pesticides and high chlorine levels that could leave you feeling worse. Testing your water is easy with a home testing kit like the ones sold by TestAssured. In a matter of minutes for most tests, you can make sure you are drinking quality water that could help keep you healthy and prevent the flu or a cold.