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I’m guessing you’ve all heard that Dara O’Brien joke, right? The one where he dismisses natural health remedies as a “bunch of poperee”? Well, to an extent, it’s safe to say that he’s probably right, but in a lot of other ways he’s wrong. No, chewing on a bunch of mint is highly unlikely to ward off heart disease of the bubonic plague – but actually, there are certain elements of mint which are actually proven to help relieve and even cure an upset tummy; hence why people sometimes choose to drink peppermint tea after a large meal.
Now when it comes to Freshers’ flu, most students will tell you that no matter how hard you fight it, it is inevitable that you will catch it and I’m inclined to agree. Unless, of course, you’re a gladiator with an immune system of iron that can easily shrug off the thousands of new bugs/viruses that you’re exposed to when you come to university and begin meeting lots of new people from all over the UK, never mind the globe. I can attest to this, I was unfortunate enough to have Freshers’ flu three times last year. Which is exactly why this year, I was determined to not make myself such an easy target, and also to know what to do once I had succumbed.
One of the most obvious ways to fortify yourself against Freshers’ flu is to eat well, sleep well and not drink too much alcohol. Obviously I realise that it’s called “Freshers’” flu for a reason and none of those things are likely to happen. But if you do feel like trying out my first top tip, several immune-boosting foods to try are: mushrooms, oranges, yogurt, oats, tea, ginger, honey, spinach and fish. Sometimes it is difficult to eat well, especially if this is your first time truly away from home and having to cook for yourself. Remember though, your body is likely to thank you for the effort you make in the long run. Just do your best to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, avoid too many processed meals (it really is better for you if you try to make that vegetable pasta yourself!) and drink lots of water. To some of you this might be like preaching to the choir, but to others –give it a go!
Okay, you’ve tried to eat and sleep well, yet you’ve still managed to fall down with flu (curses, Bryony). However, this is not uncommon. What are the best ways to deal with it once you’ve got it? In terms of herbal remedies, rosemary is really good at dealing with a cough, cayenne peppers are good for congestion and curry powder is good for achy joints. There we go, I’ve basically given you the recipe for a homemade curry, and it’ll help your flu! Another thing to remember is that once you’ve got the flu, please try and rest – I know it’s tempting to continue going out and all the rest of it but that will just prolong your illness and make you feel crap for much longer than it would’ve done if you’d just refused that mad night in Hustle and stayed home in your duvet watching the Breaking Bad finale.
If you’re not into trying too many natural remedies, there are many drug store options available and these things will help you out, but they’ll probably be more expensive and less interesting with food (what recipe involves paracetemol?). When it comes to pharmaceuticals, one thing I can suggest is to head down to the campus pharmacy as soon as possible. It’s right down past County residences, and when you’re about 90% sure you’re knocking on death’s door in a couple of weeks, you are probably not going to want to make that journey. Before I started doing my Freshers’ flu research, I was convinced that anything other than shop bought drugs would be a waste of time; but upon examining the issue, I realised that if you look after your body naturally first, the flu will probably hit you less hard, less often and the drugs will have an easier job battling against it as well.