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Alternatives you can use to try to fight the flu

If you're worried that the flu shot and washing your hands isn't enough, there are some things you can try to stay healthy.

Flu season is hitting hard in East Tennessee and across the country.

Flu activity has been high in Tennessee for weeks. About 10 million cases have been reported this season in the U.S., and about 87,000 people have been hospitalized, according to the CDC.

Around 4,800 people have died, including 32 children. This includes one child in East Tennessee and another in Middle Tennessee.

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Experts say the best way to avoid getting the flu is by getting the flu shot and washing your hands often. They say you should wash them long enough to kill the virus. It helps to sing the entire alphabet song while you scrub, before rinsing your hands with hot water.

If you're worried this won't be enough to keep you from getting sick, there are more things you can try.

One option is elderberry syrup. Doctors say elderberries have been used for centuries for colds, flu and skin issues. It comes in a lot of different products and can be found at most health stores. 

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Doctors say it can be good to use when you start to feel sore muscles and at the start of a cough before having to try other medicines. Elderberry can be used to treat inflammation, upper respiratory infections and other kinds of ailments with minimal if any side effects. 

You can also add some foods to your diet to boost your immune system. They might not keep you from getting sick, but they will not hurt.

Registered dietitian Angie Tillman said these foods can help:

  • Probiotic containing foods: yogurt, fermented vegetables kimchi, sauerkraut
  • Citrus fruits high in Vitamin C: oranges, grapefruits; they might not prevent illness but could shorten the duration of a cold.
  • Garlic
  • Sweet potatoes; they are high in Vitamin A and can help your respiratory system and skin, your first line of defense from sickness
  • Chicken soup; it has many vitamins and minerals.
  • Black and green tea
  • Herbal teas like peppermint and echinacea

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