How to Fend Off the Flu
And what to do if you do get sick
With flu season upon us, we all need to be vigilant about taking good care
of ourselves to boost our immunity and avoid getting sick. An ounce of
prevention could be worth a week's time in the sickbed!
So what should you be doing to stay flu-free? All are things you should be
doing anyway for the good of your health:
- Taking a daily multivitamin
- Getting enough rest and regular physical activity
- Drinking plenty of liquids
- Following a healthy eating plan that includes a variety of vitamin- and
In particular, vitamins B6 and B12 contribute to a healthy immune system.
Vitamin B6 is widely available in foods, including potatoes, spinach, turkey,
beans, and enriched cereal grains. B12, on the other hand, is only available
from animal sources such as meat, milk, and fish.
Minerals such as selenium and zinc also work to keep the immune system
strong. These minerals are found in protein-rich foods such as beans, nuts,
meat, and poultry.
Keeping up with your physical activity program can help, too. The American
Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends regular, moderate exercise to boost the
immune system. According to ACE, people who exercise four to five times per
week are less likely to come down with colds and flu.
And don't forget to take simple "respiratory hygiene" precautions
that can help reduce the spread of disease, including:
- Washing your hands frequently, using soap, for at least 15 seconds
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Cleaning the headsets of your telephones, and washing doorknobs, railings,
and other frequently handled objects to keep them free of germs
- Keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
What to Do When You've Got the Flu
If you do catch the flu, see your doctor, and ask about antiviral
medications that can reduce your sick time by a day or two and make you less
contagious. While you stay home and try to recover, follow this advice from the
Centers for Disease Control:
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Avoid tobacco and alcohol