Flu Prevention: Four Tips to Stay Flu-Free
Flu season is upon us. Every year millions of people in the U.S. fall ill after catching the influenza virus. This highly contagious disease can be very hard to avoid so prevention is the key. Here are four tips that you can develop into healthy habits to help you keep the flu at bay this winter.
1. Boost your immune system
The immune system’s main job is to defend and protect your body against infections. Keeping it healthy helps you fight the flu and cold season.
To ensure you have a strong and healthy immune system, you need to have healthy habits and a balanced lifestyle, including:
- Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
- Exercising daily, even if it’s just 30 minutes of walking
- Getting enough sleep and rest every night
- Reducing stress
Sometimes our immune systems become weak because of life’s stressors. If you’re stressed out or not getting enough sleep, adding supplements to your diet may benefit your health.
Vitamin C has antioxidant properties that help strengthen your natural defenses and reduce chronic disease. A diet rich in oranges, strawberries, kiwi and spinach is an excellent boost to your immune system. If you need a little extra help, you can always take over-the-counter supplements.
Other vitamins and supplements worth considering during flu season are vitamin D, elderberry, zinc and probiotics. Before you decide to take supplements, speak to your doctor about which may be most helpful for your body.
2. Maintain good hygiene habits
The influenza virus spreads quickly and easily from one person to another. CDC research has shown that even if you’re six feet away from someone who is sick, that person can still infect you with a simple cough or sneeze.
Follow these simple hygiene habits to reduce the risk of getting sick or passing on the virus to someone else:
- Wash your hands regularly, especially if you spend a lot of time in public places.
- Use a tissue to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to stay germ-free.
- Disinfect areas that people touch regularly.
- If you’re sick with the flu, wear a mask. That way you won’t spread the virus.
3. Quit smoking and reduce alcohol consumption
This prevention tip is related to our first one, and also helps maintain a strong immune system. Smoking weakens your immune system. If you’re a life long smoker and you get sick, you’ll likely suffer more from the influenza virus due to a weakened immune system. Smokers also take longer to recover from the flu.
Reducing alcohol consumption also helps your immune system. Drinking too much may dehydrate you and affect your sleep patterns. If you’re tired and dehydrated, you’re more likely to get sick.
You don’t need to cut out alcohol completely. Having a glass of wine every now and then is fine - just enjoy in moderation.
4. Get the flu shot
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to keep the flu away is to get vaccinated every year.
A seasonal flu shot helps create antibodies that fight the virus. According to MedicalNewsToday.com, the vaccine “saved 40,000 lives between 2005 and 2014, and can decrease the likelihood of complications (from the flu).”
While you may experience some minor side effects from a flu shot, you won’t get the flu from it.
As the saying goes, prevention is the best medicine. This also applies to staying healthy during flu season. Follow these tips to reduce your risk of getting sick or passing on the virus to other people.
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