How to Prevent the Flu Once Exposed to the Virus?

Did you know that when people are exposed to the cold or flu virus, only some will get infected?  Wouldn’t you want to be in the category of those uninfected?  Being sick sucks!  Sign me up to not get sick.

The cold/flu is an upper respiratory infection caused when someone coughs or sneezes by you or you touch a contaminated area then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.  The most important tips are to stay away from sick people, wash your hands with soap and water (not antibacterial soap), and get the flu shot.

In a study where they put the cold virus in people’s nose, 75% of them became infected but only 30% actually got sick.  Why? 

  • Stress. Those who reported high stress before being exposed to the virus experienced worse cold symptoms.  Beyond self-rated high stress, those going through unemployment, marital problems, and other stressful events also got sick.  Plus, those who meditate regularly report 20% fewer respiratory infections.
  • Sleep.  Those who got 6 or less hours of sleep were 4 times more likely to get sick than those who got 7 or more hours. 
  • Exercise. Data shows that people who exercise regularly get fewer respiratory infections.  The regular exercisers also experience 23% shorter illness.  They got sick for less days.

If you do get sick though, stay home, rest, let the body heal, hydrate, and eat home-cooked whole foods full of nutrients.  No drugs will help since colds/flu are caused by a virus so taking antibiotics will only breed resistant bugs.  Be careful with other over the counter drugs as antihistamines and cough suppressants can cause dizziness and drowsiness.  Decongestants can cause insomnia.  Ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin can cause stomach ulcers or kidney problems.  Mucus and runny nose is your body’s way of fighting the germs.  Rest and treat it well, so the body can do it’s job in healing.  As a matter of fact, the immune system excretes cytokines to make you feel tired so the it has more energy to fight off viruses.  So just rest.     


It’s not a coincidence that the same strategies prevent sickness, heals sickness, and also help us lose weight.  It’s nice that being healthy is all the same and doesn’t contradict itself.   


If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, diet, exercise, cravings, emotional eating and overall health and happiness. Start with a free health consultation at or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people’s opinion of Happy Food. 


~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach, San Diego