As fall launches into full swing, we start acclimating to the cooler weather and can finally relax outside without sweating through our shirts. Runs become prime beneath changing trees, football fans are thrilled for the new season and students switch gears for schoolwork.
Yet fall also signals the beginning of cold and flu season. In the next few weeks, you might notice your coworkers coughing a bit more or the trash bin piling up with tissues. Although the peak of influenza season usually doesn't hit until December or January, now is the time to take steps to prevent it. Each year, 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu. On average, 200,000 individuals are hospitalized due to flu complications and 3,000 to 49,000 people die because of flu-related causes.
So, how many people actually get a flu shot?
Raise your hand if you normally get the flu shot. Raise your hand if you're adamantly opposed to the flu shot. Whichever category you may fall under, there is another healthy solution to combating both colds and seasonal influenza.
Oral care probiotics can help you avoid colds and the flu. In a clinical study, children ages 8 to 13 received either a two-strain probiotic (Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium bifidum) or a placebo twice a day for three months. The 40 children who used probiotics had a significantly lower risk in developing a cold, or showing any symptoms such as a runny nose, cough and fever. The study was led by Dr. Sanguansak Rerksuppaphol, department of pediatrics in Srinakhariwirot University, Thailand, and published in the Journal of Pediatrics International. Boost the oral health of your kids and give them some probiotics!
For those of you who do get the flu shot (it is recommended that you do), here's an extra boost that will improve its outcome. Oral care probiotics aid the beneficial effects of the flu vaccine. A research study conducted by Dr. Giuliano Rizzardini of the Department of Infectious Disease in Milan analyzed the results of two different strains of probiotics on immune response to flu vaccination. The subjects were given either a dairy drink containing Lactobacillus paracasei ssp. paracasei (L. casei 431), probiotic capsules of Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis (BB-12) or a placebo once a day for six weeks. Two weeks later they received the flu vaccination and at the end of the trial, those who had probiotics showed a prominently higher increase in vaccine immune response compared to the those who used a placebo.
In essence, oral care probiotics help fight off the cold and flu.
What are some other ways to steer clear of colds?
• Get at least seven hours of sleep per day. The amount of time you need is largely based on age. Normally, it is recommended that children get 10 hours, teenagers at least eight to nine hours and adults seven to nine hours.
• Wash your hands before eating meals. You wouldn't believe how many germs we touch each day. It is best to rinse them all away before putting our hands to our mouths. Tell your children this, too. It is a good habit that can improve the oral health of kids.
• Daily exercise boosts the immune system.
• Eat healthy fruits and vegetables, as their antioxidants keep your immune system strong. The nutrients fight free radicals, which are groups of atoms that attack your cells. Antioxidants will serve as your personal defense system.
• Cough and sneeze into your elbow. When you sneeze into your hand, then go to open a door or shake someone's hand, all those germs transfer from you to the next person. No one wants to shake a dirty hand.
• Use hand sanitizer after being in crowded public places, such as bus and train stations and airports.