The first few weeks of uni are pretty eventful to say the least. There are a few things that are more than likely to happen:
- You get hungover and declare you’re never going to drink again (doubtful)
- That stack of takeaway boxes continues to rise…
- You get the dreaded freshers’ flu
Luckily, we’re on hand to provide some science on freshers’ flu – what causes it and how you can survive it.
What is Freshers Flu?
This mythical illness is what happens when you take a large group of people from very different parts of the country/world, weaken their immune system with alcohol, and make them live in close proximity. It’s a breeding ground for unfamiliar bacteria and it tends to result in some pretty serious fever symptoms.
There are a few basic risk factors that cause freshers flu:
- Stress: you’ve just moved into halls, you’ve been running around trying to figure out logistics, schedules, social commitments, introductions to your course, and a billion other things. You’re stressed, you’ve probably been sleep deprived, and you’re eating/drinking like a muppet.
- Alcohol: you’ve probably been doing a bit of drinking here and there, and you’re going to be feeling it. You’re already more susceptible to illness, so when the bacteria from new people hits you, you’re already vulnerable.
If you’ve got both of these going on, you’re a prime target for this common, week-ruining flu.
How can you Avoid/Survive Freshers Flu?
It all starts by dealing with stress and alcohol. You should take a bit of time to relax where possible – it’s not just about catching your breath, but it allows your body to repair itself and keeps immune function up.
Another way of boosting immune function is to get plenty of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients into your diet. This starts with a simple, highly-effective multivitamin – an easy way of boosting your nutritional intake without having to chomp down broccoli all day. It’s an easy top up and it can improve general wellbeing and immune function.
Supergreens are another good choice – they combine great plant-foods in a drink. It’s like taking the best bits of everything from spinach to asparagus, without any of the awfulness. The phytonutrients in plant foods are great for health and wellbeing and could give you an edge when it comes to battling bacteria.
Caffeine is going to be your friend during those rough all-night essay-writing sessions. You may as well get familiar now: caffeine is a great way of dealing with those rough mornings and getting stuff done. Be careful using it later in the day, however: your sleep counts. Caffeine should hype you up for a great workout, or to crush your morning projects.
Speaking of sleep, a good Zinc & Magnesium supplement can make a difference to your health and immune function.
These are essential minerals that play a key role in the way you sleep, and how much energy you have when you’re awake. Combining the two is a great way to get your intake without going through a packet of sunflower seeds.
Vitamin D3 is the most common vitamin deficiency in the world, and you’re going to need to deal with it. It’s a key player in the way that your body regulates hormones, and it’s a very simple change that can bring a wealth of benefits. Immune function is top of that list – crucial if you’re trying to survive those first few weeks.
Fish oil is amazing. Whoever you are, you need some type of Omega-3 supplement. These essential fatty acids are a key part of immune support and mental health. With the stress and risk of illness being elevated during Freshers’, this is a good one-stop supplement to keep your brain and body right.
Final Thoughts: Staying Alive
This is a time of serious change and you’re not expected to feel 100% the entire time. It’s something we all go through and dealing with it is all about preparation and putting effort into taking care of yourself.
Giving your body and brain the support they need during trying times is how staying healthy and fending off stress-induced illness works. Your diet plays into your health in crucial ways, and a few small tweaks can really produce big changes in the experience you have at the start of university.
Whether you’re a fresher bout to drop into the melting pot of uni halls, or you’re a seasoned uni veteran trying to protect yourself from the wave of fresh-faced freshers and their new bacteria, these precautions are going to be key to surviving this turbulent time.