According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu bug is constantly changing. In fact, every year another new strain finds its way into our communities, threatening our health and putting us all on high alert. With the peak of illnesses occurring somewhere between December and February, that makes this a perfect time to learn how to prevent the flu from finding its way into your body, and you can do it naturally by taking a few specific actions.
Practice Good Personal Hygiene
One of the most important things you can do to keep from getting sick is practice good hygiene. This means washing your hands with soap and water several times a day; keeping your hands and fingers away from your mouth, eyes, and nose as those are the three areas that flu bugs like to use as highways into your body; and not sharing cups or food utensils with others.
Eat Vitamin Packed Foods
In a post published by The Clarion-Ledger, author Rebecca Turner, who is a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and certified specialist in sports dietetics, recommends getting all of the vitamins and minerals you need from whole foods versus supplements. This means eating a variety of fruits, veggies, low-fat dairy, and whole grains. Some immunity boosting foods to consider include oranges, broccoli, and even mushrooms.
Limit Contact with Others
Because flu viruses are easily spread from one person to another, you may want to limit your contact with others-especially if you have a weakened or compromised immune system. When you do have to go out, again, keep your hands and fingers away from your facial area. Additionally, try to avoid high traffic areas or places where you are around a lot of people in tight spaces, such as sports arenas or public transportation.
Take In as Much Sun as You Can
For a majority of us, sun isn't the easiest to come by in the winter months. However, even 15 minutes of direct rays can help raise your levels of vitamin D, a supplement that, according to a post by Dr. Cynthia Aranow in the Journal of Investigative Medicine, "has been used (unknowingly) to treat infections such as tuberculosis before the advent of effective antibiotics." If sunlight is not an option for you, you can also increase your vitamin D intake by eating foods such as salmon and other fatty fish, eggs, cheese, and mushrooms.
It isn't always easy to avoid the flu, but take these preventative actions and you have a good chance of making it through the season without getting sick.
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- Aranow C. Vitamin D and the immune system. Journal of Investigative Medicine 2011;59(6):881-886.
- Influenza (Flu). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm