Old, New, and Weird Facts About the Flu

Lynn Kelley, preventing the flu

Note: It is recommended that you talk to your doctor before taking new supplements or medications or starting any new health program or treatment.

If you missed my post about the large study that shows Vitamin D can help prevent the flu, it’s worth taking the time to go here and read it.

Pretty much everyone and their cousins know how important hand washing is to avoid getting the flu. I guess knowing it and doing it are two different things for some people.

Lynn Kelley, Preventing the flu

One Man’s Study – Eeek!

One man did his own study in a public rest room while standing at a sink, washing his hands off and on during a short period of observation. He noted 11 men used the rest room. Seven walked out, never bothering to even glance toward the sinks.

Lynn Kelley, Lynn Kelley Author, children's author, Curse of the Double Digits, BBH McChiller, Monster Moon Mysteries,

Two acted like they were washing their hands, but they didn’t. Of those 11 men, two actually did wash their hands.

Lynn Kelley, preventing the flu

That little study makes me want to find a nifty pair of gloves to wear whenever I have to go out in public, especially if shaking hands is likely.

There’s a short video that’s new on YouTube that I almost added here, but it was extremely upsetting because it showed pictures of children who died from this year’s influenza outbreak. So heartbreaking.

If everyone watched that video, we’d all be diligent about washing our hands and preventing more germs from being spread. Such a simple act that can make a huge difference.

Lynn Kelley, preventing the flu

The Flu and Stomach Flu (Norovirus) Are Different

Many people confuse these terms. The flu is influenza, which affects the lungs. Stomach flu (norovirus) is actually a gastrointestinal virus. You can learn more about the differences here.

For more info about norovirus, watch this 3-minute video.

Note: Norovirus survives on surfaces much longer than influenza and it can live in food, thus causing people to think they have food poisoning.

How Long Does the Flu Virus Survive on Surfaces?

Various sources cited different information. Generally, influenza can survive on surfaces up to 8 hours.

According to “NHS Choices” the flu virus can survive on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours.

“The influenza virus can survive on paper money for 10 or more days,” according to an article in “The New York Times.”

Three Cheers for Copper, Brass, Bronze and Zinc!

The exception is copper, brass, bronze, and zinc, which kill the virus almost immediately.

Lynn Kelley, preventing the flu

Wow! That’s an excellent tidbit of information, don’t you think? Further research revealed copper’s efficacy against MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus) has been demonstrated in several independent studies.

Lynn Kelley, preventing the flu

What if all doorknobs were replaced with influenza fighting metals? I was feeling hopeful when I Googled, “What metal are most doorknobs made out of?” and the answer was “brass.” Less germs being passed around. Yay!

Then I clicked on a link titled Antibacterial Doorknobs – Science Updates – Science NetLinks, thinking I’d find more interesting info about brass doorknobs.

What a bummer to read “Sweat disables copper’s antibacterial properties, with implications for doorknobs and handles everywhere.”

Lynn Kelley, preventing the flu

Bob Hirshon from AAAS the Science Society commented, “So even if an institution has germ-resistant copper fixtures, they still need to clean them and encourage frequent hand-washing.”

More Things You Can Do to Help Prevent Getting the Flu 

Lynn Kelley, preventing the flu

Stay Hydrated. I’m sure you’ve heard that advice a million and one times. If you have dry mouth, you may be dehydrated. Drink plenty of liquids throughout the day to help your system run smoothly and ensure your saliva is doing its job. Yes, we’re talking about spit. Who woulda thunk?

Saliva “provides a defensive barrier against bacteria, fungi, viruses” according to Health Blurbs. 

Old Folks With Beneficial Saliva

As if this post could get any stranger, an article in a June 2013 ACS News Service Weekly PressPac explains “Saliva proteins may protect older people from influenza.” It states that in addition to starting the process of digestion, “Saliva also contains germ-fighting proteins that are a first-line defense against infections.”

That wasn’t new information to scientists, but Zheng Li and colleagues looked into how this benefit of saliva affects different age groups as related to influenza:

“Their tests of 180 saliva samples from men and women of various ages suggested that seniors, who fought off the bird flu better than the younger groups, might thank their saliva. Glycoproteins in saliva of people age 65 and over were more efficient in binding to influenza than those in children and young adults.”

Lynn Kelley, preventing the flu

According to an article in “Letters in Applied Microbiology,” flu vaccines aren’t always sufficient because “viral mutagenesis occurs rapidly (Ujike et al. 2010). Therefore, it is desirable to boost the immune system and promote resistance against IFV infection in daily life.”

Eating probiotic foods or taking probiotic supplements can boost your immune system.

An article in “US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health” reports the results of a study done on a probiotic drink made from a Japanese pickled turnip, Lactobacillus brevis KB290, works against the flu virus because it produces flu-specific antibodies and it’s tolerant to stomach acids.

Probiotic Foods Recommended by “Eat This Not That”

Lynn Kelley, preventing the flu

Fermented pickles are a probiotic, but not all pickles are fermented.

An article in “Eat This Not That” titled 18 Probiotic Fermented Foods for a Healthy Gut lists foods which have probiotics. You’ll want to read up on each specific food for the details:

  • Dark chocolate (Yippee!)
  • Greek yogurt with “live active cultures”
  • Peas
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kombucha
  • Kimchi (spicy and yummy)
  • Beer & wine (in moderation)
  • Green olives
  • Natto
  • Kefir
  • Fermented pickles (not all pickles are fermented)
  • Miso (I love miso soup)
  • Sourdough bread
  • Beet Kvass
  • Cottage cheese with live and active cultures
  • Tempeh
  • Soft, aged cheese (not all have probiotics, so read the article for the details)

Were you surprised by some of these foods? Me, too!

Lynn Kelley, preventing the flu

Unfortunately, this year’s flu vaccination isn’t as effective as experts had hoped, so if your immune system has been weakened, do your best to build it up with a probiotic supplement or fermented foods mentioned above.

Also, get plenty of sleep and exercise and eat well-balanced meals. Same advice you’ve been hearing for years. This is a reminder from Grammy. 🙂

If you’re in the high-risk category, avoid crowds as much as possible.

If you get the flu, stay home. You may save a life.

What Does the Future Hold?

Research is underway to develop a Band-Aid vaccine. It’s supposed to be pain free, doesn’t require refrigeration, and remains stable at room temperature for a year or so. One side looks like a Band-Aid and the other side has 100 microneedles that feel similar to velcro pressing against the skin when applied to the back of the wrist.

Band-Aid vaccines would eliminate the need for needles or syringes to vaccinate against influenza, plus the patches would be much easier to distribute.

Antiviral Proteins Designed By Computers

Radio New Zealand” reported “Scientists are digitising our immune system so they can quickly design custom-made antiviral proteins that shut down deadly and rapidly evolving diseases like influenza and HIV.”

Lynn Kelley, preventing the flu

Wow! Honestly, who woulda thunk? Technology has come a long way since I was a kid. What do you think about the advances being made?

Here’s an interesting article about Why This Year’s Outbreak is One of the Worst.

If you do get the flu, here’s a video with some helpful suggestions to help you get through it:

Note: It is recommended that you talk to your doctor before taking new supplements or medications or starting any new health program or treatment.

What are your thoughts? Anything you’d like to add that I didn’t cover? I had to pick and choose from all the info online and I could have spent another month on this, but you’d have been long gone. 

I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by!

Photo credits: Pixabay – ErikaWittlieb, dennisflarsen, mohamed_hassan, deligraphy, Peter-Lomas, geralt

Lynn Kelley, Master Certified Health Coach

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4 Responses to Old, New, and Weird Facts About the Flu

  1. Pambelina says:

    Thanks so much for the great information you provided to us. It’s much appreciated!
    Also, I can’t wait for the bandaid substitution for injections…that’s going to be amazing.

  2. Even though the flu shot isn’t very effective this year, it’s still worth getting. Supposedly, if you get the flu and have had the shot, the illness isn’t as bad. I can vouch for it too – my mom, dad, and husband all had the flu around Christmas. My daughter, brother & I did not. Us ladies all had the shot, the guys skipped it. My mom doesn’t have a great immune system, and I figure my brother got lucky…

    • That’s a bummer that half your family had the flu around Christmas. I’m glad you didn’t get it and that you did all you could to prevent getting it. Hope you all stay healthy the rest of the year. Writing this post made me want to stay home until flu season is over! Can’t do that, though and can’t help but worry about the grandkids and my parents getting it and other high-risk friends and family members. That’s when the prayers come in. Then I have some peace of mind. Thanks for stopping in, Jennette.

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