Saturday 11 July, 2020

Don't let the flu get the better of you this holiday season

iStock photo of a sick woman in bed.

iStock photo of a sick woman in bed.

With Meisha-Gay Mattis

The flu season is at its peak and the Ministry of Health and Wellness has issued a very clear warning of the dangers of the influenza virus.

Very often, Jamaicans make light of the situation, but the truth is that the flu can be fatal, especially to vulnerable groups. We can’t afford to take it lightly.

The Ministry said it has made available "the flu vaccine free of cost in the public health system to high-risk members of the population, including: healthcare workers; children and elderly with chronic illnesses; pregnant women; individuals who are institutionalised or in state care; and non-health frontline workers.

A really bad bout of the flu can cost you as much as two weeks of recovery time or longer, depending on the complications. Additionally, it can result in a big impact financially, so take every precaution to safeguard your body and your pocket this flu season.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jacqueline Bisasor-McKenzie, stated, “At the same time, we want to remind members of the public to practice good hygiene, including washing hands with soap and water and covering the mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing, which will help to prevent the transmission of the virus.”

She continued, “Persons with the flu should get adequate rest, avoid close contact and avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.”

Let’s examine the dangers of the flu. It’s ideal to visit the doctor to determine whether you have the flu or not as symptoms such as a stuffy or runny nose can also indicate a cold or an allergy flare-up. 


Flu symptoms

- Fever over 100.4 degrees fahrenheit

- Muscle ache

- Headache

- Dry, persistent cough

- Fatigue and weakness

- Chills and sweats

- Nasal congestion

- Sore throat

The flu can lay you flat out physically and make you incapable of performing your daily activities for up to two weeks and can be even more in severe cases. Jamaicans usually have this crazy idea of just “sweating out the flu,” but the truth is lots of rest is required for recovery. In severe cases complications may include:

- Bronchitis

- Pneumonia

- Ear and sinus infections

- Dehydration requiring IV

Building and improving your immune system is a great way to safeguard your body against illness this cold and flu season. Your immune system works to defend the body and its tissues from germs and infections. One great way in which you can build a rock-solid immune system is by eating a nutritious diet of antioxidant-rich food.


“Eat the rainbow”

Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can help to offset free radicals that cause bodily harm, making it more vulnerable to the flu. Therefore, you want to consume a wide variety of foods of different colours as each colour group has its own benefits.

A few special anti-inflammatory compound foods you want to get in your diet are turmeric, ginger, and lemon. They also work at boosting the immune system. Below I’ll also share with you my morning shot that I like to have four to five times weekly, combining these three immunity boosters.


Meisha’s Morning Shot


1 lemon

1/2 orange

2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

1 1/2" ginger

1 1'2" turmeric or 1 tsp powder

1 tbsp raw honey

1/2 cup water

This shot is rich in Vitamin C (which is also great for the skin) from your lemon and orange. Fire up those good bacteria (not all bacteria are bad) in the gut with the apple cider vinegar, which eases digestion and helps to prevent bloating.

Most of the foods we consume on a daily basis leave our guts inflamed. We want to get more foods that are anti-inflammatory into our guts and turmeric is just perfect for anything in the body that is inflamed. The sunny yellow that is depicted by turmeric is an indication of how potent it is at fighting inflammation. With inflammation, bacteria can easily take over the body and this is one of the reasons we can we susceptible to the flu.  

This morning shot is great for having four to five times per week, preferably on an empty stomach to get the most out of it.

Paying attention to personal hygiene can also help you to prevent the flu in a few quick steps:

- Wash your frequently or sanitize regularly

- Clean and disinfect surfaces, particularly those that are shared, from door handles to computer mouses, etc.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands. That is an easy way to transfer germs into the body.

- Stay clear of those who have the virus. Be cautious when shaking hands and hugging. You’re not being rude; you just don’t want to get sick, too.

- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing to prevent sharing your germs with others. In this case, sharing is not caring.

Practicing these healthy habits puts you in the perfect position to fight the flu.

Contributed by Meisha-Gay Mattis, founder of Bodhi, a Kingston-based holistic wellness company. She is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Personal Fitness Trainer. Email for more information or visit any of the following 

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