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Don't Bug Me

November 10, 2011 by Kenton Delisle

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The “bugs” are officially out.

People are filling their garbage bins with tissue paper from runny noses, eyes are watering trying to read computer screens at work and I’m trying not to breathe when I hear someone cough or sneeze near me.

Paranoid? Maybe.

I know the real drill to avoid being “bugged”. I try to be proactive to dodge getting sick in the first place by taking care of myself with sleep, eating well and washing my hands thoroughly and often. Taking the seasonal flu vaccine is another big step in avoiding illness and protecting those around us.

You might be a bright eyed and bushytailed young adult, confident that you can recover from a flu quite quickly, but what about those whom you might transmit it to? We may be in contact with young children, elderly and people with compromised immune systems in our everyday lives.  The flu shot is a simple and safe measure to be socially responsible. If I do get snagged by illness despite my stellar efforts,

I find it is best to let colds and flus run their course. I’ve always been wary of urban myths and home remedies when it comes to treating a cold or the flu as they typically aren’t backed by science. I used to work with a person who would limit milk when her kids were ill, claiming that milk causes mucus production. Even though some beverages (such as milk or soy beverage) may create the perception of increased mucous, research shows that they in fact don’t increase mucous production.Following such advice may result in limiting a very nutritious choice that is well tolerated when sick.

Vitamin C supplements are another common strategy to ward off illness. Unfortunately, they don’t have the effect people hope for. While you may enjoy the orange flavoured vitamins there is no evidence to suggest that high doses have any benefit above meeting your daily needs. In fact, taking high doses (> 2000mg per day) can actually worsen symptoms as it can lead to gastrointestinal problems and cause diarrhea. 

The vast majority of us don’t need a vitamin C supplement when sick or healthy as it is a very easy nutrient to get from eating your Vegetables and Fruit every day.  Adding red peppers on your salad, or having a kiwi or orange as a snack will pretty much cover you (adult women need 75mg, adult men need 90mg per day).

The moral of this story is to stick with the tried and true: sleep, fluids and nourishment are the best tools to recover as quickly as possible. If you are unsure of a food, beverage or supplement tip or “treatment”,  check with a Registered Dietitian (dial 8-1-1) or speak to your local pharmacist (call 8-1-1 5pm-9am every night for a HealthLink BC pharmacist if your local one is not available).

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Comments (3)

CarysAdams3

Posted on Monday November 14, 2011 a 2:41pm

Wow, I always cut back on dairy when I was sick thinking it caused mucus production. I also loaded up on vitamin c. I'm going to have to really focus on my diet. Thanks for the tips!

Cynthia

Posted on Tuesday November 15, 2011 a 7:24pm

I eat the chewable vitamin c's when I am sick and give to my kids too. It seems like I have wasted a lot of money over the years. No more. We will stick to fluids and rest.

cpetelski's picture

HealthyFamilies BC

Posted on Thursday November 17, 2011 a 2:58pm

Thanks CarysAdams3 and Cynthia. We’re glad that you’re finding our blogs helpful. Stay warm! Check out more info from Dietitian Services online - like the Food sources of vitamin C at http://bit.ly/dieitianservicesvitC Kenton Delisle

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