7 Tips for Staying Healthy During What Looks to Be a Horrible Flu Season

Photo: Stocksy/Marti Sans

With cold weather comes flu season, and this year isn't looking too great when it comes to avoiding the sniffles—at least if the US follows in Australia's footsteps.

It's been one of the worst flu seasons in Australia—and since what happens in the southern hemisphere often informs what the US can expect come fall, it's time to prepare yourself to fight a strong flu strain.

Experts are saying that with nearly 170,000 cases of lab-confirmed influenza this year compared to less than 91,000 in 2016, it's been one of the worst flu seasons in the land Down Under.

And since what happens in the southern hemisphere often informs what the US can expect come fall, it's time to prepare yourself to fight a stronger flu strain.

One strain in particular has been popping up the most in Aussieland, and it's a tough cookie: H3N2 virus. There's "every reason to expect that we could have a severe flu season this year," Robert Atmar, MD, told Today.

To make sure H3N2—or any illness—doesn't keep you from enjoying pumpkin spice everything or new, buzzy fitness studios, start focusing on giving your immune system a boost now with these helpful tips.

Originally posted September 22, 2017. Updated January 26, 2018.

These 7 immune boosters will help prevent the flu from getting you down this season.

1. Stock up on anything and everything fermented

There's never been a better time to get your hands on some bacteria-boosting kombucha, kimchi, pickles, tempeh, and other fermented foods, which boosts good gut bacteria. Considering that your gut is the largest part of your immune system, you want to keep it healthy, so start eating probiotics on the daily to stop this flu strain in its tracks.

2. Add immune-boosting foods into your diet

There are many immune-boosting foods from which to choose. Having a diverse range in your system is a doc-approved way to help build a strong immune system, which can act as a shield to the flu. Consume a hefty dose of vitamins, like beta-carotene from papaya and carrots, vitamin C from kiwi and berries, vitamin D from mushrooms, magnesium from avocados—you know, all sorts of goodies you probably already devour anyway.

3. Add turmeric and ginger into your pressed juice

Amp up the superfoods in your diet by adding some all-star ingredients into your morning juice or smoothie. Keep some ginger and turmeric on hand, which are both known to fight inflammation and help give the immune system a much-needed boost.

4. Start taking relaxing, hot baths

Baths help you de-stress and can improve sleep—basically nonnegotiables for maintaining a healthy immune system. Major health benefits aside, is there really anything better for your well-being than settling into a mermaid-themed soak after a long day?

5. Meditate on the daily

Like taking a relaxing bath, meditating is great for the soul—and, arguably, even better for your immunity. Settling in and shutting off your mind on a regular basis helps relieve stress and anxiety, calming your nerves and giving your immune system strength to fight off an infection. In fact, this might finally be a reason to give "dog breathing" a try.

6. Try a echinacea tincture

Tinctures are basically tiny bottles with droppers that are full of super-concentrated compounds from natural sources that help with stress, sleep, and so much more. But for boosting the immune system, echinacea's your best bet: A couple drops a day can naturally fight off viruses before they even start. (And heal you up 30 percent faster if you do get sick.)

7. Keep up with a consistent workout schedule

Whether you're a yogi or a runner, making sure you get in some physical activity on a regular basis is not only great for your physical and mental health, but working out also lowers stress, which builds a stronger immune system—and not having to spend all your hard-earned money on tissues.

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