Personal Trainer Turk Fickling at Rhino Fit Studio.

Personal Trainer Turk Fickling at Rhino Fit Studio.

John Rosman / OPB

You may not see it. You may not feel it. But influenza season is likely speeding up to hit its traditional February peak.

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A good face for the flu season can be found over the holidays at your aunt's house. "It's like seeing your adorable, but disease-laden cousin," said Dr. Joyce Hollander-Rodriguez, the director of the Cascades East Rural Family Medicine Residency Program in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

She explains that the flu season is believed to be the result of local viruses being picked up and transferred — via plane, family car — to new locations — schools, work, bars, etc. But maybe you want to skip that new year tradition of feeling miserable for a week?

We asked five different health experts across the state for a few tips on how to stay healthy this flu season. Skip ahead to hear from: a family doctor, personal trainer, yoga instructor, naturopath and bartender.

Dr. Joyce Hollander-Rodriguez.

Dr. Joyce Hollander-Rodriguez.

Courtesy of Joyce Hollander-Rodriguez

Dr. Joyce Hollander-Rodriguez is the Director of Cascades

East Rural Family Medicine

Residency Program in Klamath Falls.

How To Stay Healthy

Wash Your Hands!

"The biggest (tip to stay healthy) in general: embrace the germ theory," said Dr. Joyce Hollander-Rodriguez. "Good hand washing knows no bounds." It's not just a cold you're avoiding by washing your hands but also serious bugs like the norovirus.

"During the flu season, people will go out of their way to get tea, take zinc, get rest, buy EmergenC, etc. ... if you could just get people to buy-in just as much to 20-second hand washing that would be really wonderful." She recommends singing the "Happy Birthday song" as a self-timer to know how long to properly wash.

Here's a good primer on proper hand washing techniques from the Mayo Clinic.

One Simple Step To Take Today

Try not to get rundown. Eat better, drink plenty of water, manage your stress and sleep. A good, tried and true rule of thumb to follow: "All things in moderation — including foods and family."

Personal Trainer Turk Fickling watches Ben Williams lift weights. Williams has been working with Fickling for two years.

Personal Trainer Turk Fickling watches Ben Williams lift weights. Williams has been working with Fickling for two years.

John Rosman / OPB

Turk Fickling is a personal trainer, and former competitive body builder, in Beaverton.

What Are Things To Avoid This Flu Season?

"Don't deviate from your diet too much," said Turk Fickling. The personal trainer knows it's easy to slide into holiday-mode and start eating food out of your regular diet. But he recommends sneaking past the sugary treats hanging around the office.

If you're not careful, he warns, you might be unhappy with the results. "Next thing you know you're 10 pounds heavier, you're all bummed out and depressed."

One Simple Step To Take Today

"Unfortunately the answer requires effort," he said. "There is no simple step."

For Fickling, the most important element of all is exercise. It's the equalizer — if you gain some weight during the holidays you can work it back down. If you're feeling lethargic at work, exercise can help.

"I'm not saying working out (will take care of everything) — but it's better than the alternative, of withering away to nothing. Feeling like you're a blob of a human mass and then going home and watching Netflix."

He said all it takes is exercising for 20 minutes, four times a week, "that's not a whole lot." You can walk, you can go to the gym — whatever you like to do — but most importantly, he said, just do it. "It increases the metabolism, gets the endorphins going and just makes you feel better."

Julie Freed stretches out a yoga pose at the beach.

Julie Freed stretches out a yoga pose at the beach.

Courtesy of Julie Freed

Julie Freed is the general manager, and an instructor at

Rasa Center for Yoga and Wellness

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in Ashland and Medford.

How To Stay Healthy

Stretch, Don't Stress!

Julie Freed is quick to point out there isn't a magic bullet to avoid getting sick. But managing our stress, she said, is a good start, and yoga can help.

Yoga has the benefits of meditation, moving slower, becoming mindful — helping combat the frenetic nature of everyday life. Yoga practitioners focus on their breathing. In doing so, she said, it helps us stay in the present.

"We can't take a breath in the past, we can't take a breath in the future — we can only take a breath right now. In this moment, there isn't a lot of stress," she said.

What Are Things To Avoid This Flu Season?

"I'm not into avoiding."

"Life happens, bills need to get paid, loved ones get sick ... what can I do to start taking care of myself in the midst of it?"  She believes this type of acceptance is at the root of yoga. "Put yourself in a difficult posture, instead of moving away from it you learn how to breathe."

One Simple Step To Take Today

If you're sitting at your desk all day, once an hour take two minutes to get up, stretch and change your position. She says think of it like stretching after a long airplane ride. Better yet — every hour, close your computer and take two minutes to close your eyes and focus your breath.

Dr. Natasha Kassam at Zoom Performance in NW Portland.

Dr. Natasha Kassam at Zoom Performance in NW Portland.

John Rosman / OPB

Dr. Natasha Kassam is a Naturopathic doctor in Portland. She opened her own clinic, 8 Hearts, five years ago and has since taken a sabbatical to work with ZoomCare.

How To Stay Healthy

Shift your diet to strengthen your microbiome

The microbiome refers to the microorganisms living on and in the body — Dr. Natasha Kassam said that a healthy microbiome translates to a healthier immune system, something we can nurture through the food we consume.

She recommends the following to help build a strong microbial community.

  • A mostly plant based diet: Leafy greens, asparagus and vegetables from the cruciferous family (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage).
  • Fibrous and nutrient dense fruits: Thick skinned berries (raspberries/blackberries), avocado, squash, tomato.
  • Fermented foods/beverages: Sauerkraut, kombucha and pickled vegetables.
  • Healthy fats: Extra-virgin non adulterated olive oil, raw nuts, olives, pasture-raised, farm-fresh eggs.
  • Food rich in prebiotics: Raw onions, raw garlic, chicory, dandelion greens, legumes.

Build a better head space.

Start working on stress management, sleep and mindfulness. That last one, Dr. Kassam explained, means doing activities that bring you into the present moment. Try exercises that help center breathing like yoga, meditation, going outside.

One Simple Step To Take Today

Try eating four to six different types of vegetables a day. She said that one step can help shift the ecology in your gut, where many microorganisms live.

Jutta Brandon behind the bar at the Lion's Eye Tavern.

Jutta Brandon behind the bar at the Lion's Eye Tavern.

John Rosman / OPB

Jutta Brandon is bartender at the Lion's Eye Tavern on 82 street in east Portland.

How To Stay Healthy

"Hot toddies are really nice," said Lion's Eye Tavern bartender Jutta Brandon. She points out that the warm drink has a few ingredients that might help your body fight off unwanted colds. "There is vitamin C in the citrus, and health benefits with honey and the whiskey ... well a small of amount of whiskey is good for your health."

As a seven year veteran of the food service industry, she personally takes vitamin C and echinacea to help battle all the germs floating around public places.

What Are Things To Avoid This Flu Season?

"You want to avoid sick people and shaking their hands." The line of work has forced Brandon to be more vigilant about washing her hands and the bar after encountering sick customers.

If you're feeling sick, but in a social environment, here's her pro-tip: "Cough into your elbow like a vampire or bend over and cough toward the floor."

One Simple Step To Take Today

Don't just fall into an easy routine of going home and watching Netflix in bed. Go out! Meet some new friends. "Being social is good for your health," the bartender said. "That's kind of the whole spirit (of this time of year) actually connecting with people. But it's a double edged sword because they all have germs."

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