Even though I am still missing the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, there are so many things about the fall season that I love too. The gorgeous reds, oranges, and yellows of the deciduous trees, visiting our local Farmer’s Market, marvelling at the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables and the brilliant blue of the sky on a cool, crisp autumn day.
However, there is one thing about this time of year that I do not love and that is the arrival of the much-dreaded cold and flu season, otherwise known as the “Fall Spike”.
It’s not a coincidence that with the school year in full swing, those nasty germs are in full swing too! Influenza viruses are more stable in cold air and when you couple that with low humidity which helps the virus particles remain in the air and then multiply by the number of people in enclosed spaces, (like children in a classroom), you get the inevitable fall influenza spike.
Though cold and flu prevention is important year round, it’s even more important to make healthy choices and take preventive measures to protect yourself and your family in preparation for the ‘Fall Spike’.
Studies show school children bring germs home from school and spread them to their parents and younger siblings, causing sickness ranging from colds to severe asthma flare-ups – known as the “Fall Spike.” (1)
- Did you know that in 2015, more than 5,000 Canadians were hospitalized with the flu, including more than 1,500 kids? (2)
Let’s face the facts, back to school equals back to germs!
To help keep your family healthy throughout the school year, follow these easy tips —
1. EAT WELL:
It’s essential to stock up on foods that contain nutrients that contribute to good overall and immune health during the Fall Spike and leading into cold and flu season. But it is also important to make healthy food choices throughout the year to ensure you and your family are getting the nutrients your bodies need.
During the Fall Spike, you may want to think about upping certain foods such as citrus fruits, beans, and legumes, probiotics and nuts and seeds to make sure everyone is getting the nutrients they need.
– Citrus Fruit: not only are citrus fruits a good source of vitamin C, they’re naturally delicious. If fresh fruit is not an option, try frozen – they are just as nutritious and delicious in smoothies or on top of yogurt or cereal. Read the label to make sure they do not come with added salt or sugar.
– Beans and Legumes: beans and legumes are a source of protein and zinc so add some to your diet today.
– Nuts and Seeds: a variety of nuts and seeds contain vitamin E – a dietary antioxidant that helps in the maintenance of good health.
– Probiotic foods: probiotic foods like kefir or probiotic yogurt contain bacteria which may modulate immune function. Eating foods that contain probiotics is preferred to taking probiotic supplements because then you also get the other nutrients in the food, like protein and calcium.
2. WASH YOUR HANDS:
To limit the spread of germs, wash your hands frequently throughout the day.
I worked for many years as a nurse in the Operating Room and I cannot overemphasize how essential it is to properly wash your hands. This is important any time of the year but doubly so during cold and flu season. Keeping your hands impeccably clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.
TIP – For general hand washing, you should wash your hands with soap and warm running water while silently (or not so silently, it’s up to you…lol) singing the Happy Birthday song. Then rinse and dry your hands using paper towels or a clean hand towel.
3. KNOW WHEN TO STAY HOME:
Know when a fever is too high and make sure to stay home if your temperature passes 37.8 degrees Celcius or 100 degrees Fahrenheit. And also remember, you should be fever-free for at least 24 hours before returning to work or school.
4. GET THE FLU SHOT:
Flu season is on its way and spending a few minutes to get vaccinated could save you 14 days of misery! No matter where you stand on proper etiquette, flu shots should be part of the plan, it’s our first defense against the flu.
- The flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu and is available through in-store pharmacists at Atlantic Superstore stores right now!
- From working many years as a nurse, I can tell you with certainty, flu shots save lives!
From the food aisle to the pharmacy, your local Atlantic Superstore has great products to help you maintain health during cold and flu season.
Head to Atlantic Superstore (or your local Loblaws store) to book a free appointment with one of the in-store registered dietitians for more information on foods that help support good overall and immune health, and while you’re there, visit your in-store pharmacist for your flu shot.
And to stay up to date with all the latest news, be sure to follow the #SuperstoreFluCrew and #Fluless hashtags.
PIN IT – 4 Tips To Avoid The Dreaded Fall Flu Spike
(1). Johnston SL et al. The relationship between upper respiratory infections and hospital admissions for asthma: a time-trend analysis. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1996 Sep;154 (3 Pt 1):654-60. https://www.on.lung.ca/september-spike-2014-release, accessed September 9, 2016.
(2). Public Health Agency of Canada. Reported Influenza Hospitalizations and Deaths in Canada: 2011-12 to 2015-16. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/influenza/flu-stat-eng.php