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How To Survive Fresher’s Flu Season

Lectures interrupted by a continuous string of raspy coughs; Sainsbury’s shelves decimated of Lem-Sip. That slight sniffle, and tickle in the back of your throat; the dreaded “Fresher’s Flu” season is finally upon us. Whilst getting ill during this time seems almost inevitable, a few simple (and cheap) adjustments can help your body navigate the tapestry of germs it fights each time you step into Why-Not or Gari’s.  

The simplest and cheapest tip to not getting ill is simply drinking enough water. Hydration is critical to maintaining a healthy immune system, as it ensures your body can eliminate toxins and maintain proper energy levels. The suggested intake for men is around 3.7 litres, and 2.7 for women per day.

If you still struggle to hit your intake goal, then try to add in some electrolytes (the little minerals that help your body retainits needed amount of fluid). I find coconut water to be the most natural and delicious way to do this, although other sports drinks (such as lucozade) or foods high in calcium and potassium (such as nuts, seeds and bananas) can also do the trick! 

Increasing your electrolyte intake is especially important if you are, as most uni students do, going out. Those dreaded hangovers are mostly your body letting you know it’s dehydrated, since alcohol is a diuretic. So, if you are going to “go-out”, remember to down at least one glass of water at the club (tap water is always free!) Hydrate or Diedrate my friends.  

Vitamin C and D are your other essentials to a working immune system. Oranges and peppers are usually some of the cheapest fruits or veg on the shelves that are packed with vitamin C. For vitamin D, living in Edinburgh poses a bit of a challenge. A simple way to tackle this, in addition to a supplement, is to get it through some delicious grub –salmon, canned tuna, and eggs are all great sources. For all my lovely vegans out there, reach for mushrooms; fortified breakfast cereals, or fortified plant-based milks. (Oh, and you’ll be extra happy to know every 100ml of Oatly contains 30% of your reference intake) 

Unfortunately, a lack of sunlight doesn’t just cause a lack of vitamin D. It leads to a lack of heat– and if you (like me) have refused to turn the heat on in your flat until at least the first of November, then I’m guessing you’re finding keeping warmto be increasingly difficult. Whilst a traditional cuppa is a fabulous way to keep warm, opting for herbal teas containing turmeric; ginger, or lemon, gives your body an additional boost in fighting inflammation and germs. And if you’ve got a sore throat, throw in a spoonful of honey. 

Lastly, be sure to clock in those extra hours on the pillow. An adequate amount of sleep is one of the most important components to a healthy immune system. Not only will you feel more energized when you do sit down to do work, but you’ll also avoid having to miss out on nights out (or writing your essays, if your parents ask).  

If, despite all efforts, freshers’ flu still takes you down, head to the kitchen for some nutritious comforting meals. One of my go-to’s (that is budget friendly and easy to prep) is Miso Savoury Oats. Sitting down to a steaming bowl of this is like getting a hug from your mum. Simply measure out 40g of oats; a tablespoon of miso paste, a handful of spinach, and 150ml of water into a bowl and stir. For extra vitamin C and A, throw in some diced bell peppers and shredded carrots. For some vitamin D, as well as protein and healthy fats, simply mix an egg into the oat blend. To cook, just chuck it in the microwave for 2-3 mins, stirring halfway. To add an extra bit of flavour, top with diced spring onions, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and a dash of soy sauce. Delish. 

Whether or not you manage to escape the “fresher’s flu” downfall, the beginning of uni is the time to try that new coffee shop, go clubbing with your friends, and nail down your gym routine. Just make sure to also take time to get some good grub, sip some tea, and clock in a solid snooze. As always, balance is key.  

Photo credit: “Swine Flu Season James” by Blaine Pearson is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.