Aussie flu – the H3N2 strain of the virus – is just one of the strains of the influenza virus that has been affecting millions of people around the world this year.
After causing problems in Australia during its winter, 85 people in the UK are reported to have died from flu since the beginning of October, and almost 2,000 people have been hospitalised.
Now, Aussie flu is quickly spreading across the US, with New York City one of 26 states reporting high flu levels in outpatient clinics.
So how can you avoid catching the virus?
Nutritionist Natalie Lamb from Bio-Kult has revealed the things you should eat and do to help in the fight against Aussie flu.
Consume fermented foods
Many people aren’t aware that up to 70 per cent of our immune cells are located in the gut and that our gut bacteria plays an essential role in supporting a strong immune system. This can be compromised during the winter months if it’s busy fighting off bugs. Fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir and sauerkraut could help to balance the gut flora to support the gut immune system.
Nutrients such as zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium are well known for supporting the immune system. Try to eat a range of colourful vegetables which should provide a mix of these and other essential nutrients, delicious in warming soups and stews.
Reduce simple sugars and refined carbohydrates
Reduce simple sugars and refined carbohydrates, such as breads, pasta, biscuits and cakes that are known to feed unwanted bacteria and yeast in the gut, encouraging their growth over beneficial immune supporting strains.
Consume good quality protein
Instead choose good quality protein sources such as grass fed meat, fish, free range eggs and legumes which are the building blocks for many immune cells and are delicious slow cooked.
Cook with herbs
Culinary herbs such as garlic, sage, rosemary and thyme are reputed to have immune boosting and antimicrobial benefits.
Pop a probiotic
For those who don’t have time to ferment, multi-strain probiotics are a more convenient way to rebalance the gut flora and support the immune system to work effectively. Probiotics such as Bio-Kult Advanced 14-strain have been shown to significantly shorten common colds and reduce the severity of symptoms.
Take a Vitamin D supplement
As vitamin D stored in fat cells will begin to be used up by January/February time, it may be important to provide a little extra support through supplementation over the winter months. Interestingly probiotic supplements have been shown to increase vitamin D levels too.
Not reaching straight for the antibiotics and getting a good night’s sleep are also key in the fight against Aussie flu, according to Natalie.
She said: “Remember, conditions such as coughs, colds, sore throats and flu rarely require antibiotics. Antibiotics are not individual bacteria specific so they can alter your natural microflora; the bacteria that naturally live in and on the human body. This can cause impaired immunity, thrush and antibiotic associated diarrhoea.
“Importantly, overuse of antibiotics in inappropriate situations encourages the growth of resistant bacteria. If you do succumb to a virus, ensure you get plenty of rest and try to treat symptoms with warm, soothing vitamin C rich drinks.
“Allowing yourself adequate rest and a good night’s sleep is imperative for rejuvenation and healing. Our bodies work best when we keep our daily routine to a regular circadian rhythm; avoid stimulants late at night, and capture your best night sleep between 10pm and 6am.”
What should you do if you do become infected?