As we sneeze and sniffle our way through the flu season, those of us who got the flu probably wish we had done more to prevent it. Those of use who have thus far avoided the flu would like to continue doing so. So how can you protect yourself from the flu?
- Get plenty of rest. If you allow yourself to get into a pattern of sleep-deprivation, your immune system won't function optimally. Lack of sufficient sleep can lead to the flu. If you feel exhausted, listen to your body and get more sleep. Most adults require at least seven hours of sleep in order to keep their immune systems as strong as possible.
Nutrition. Just as proper sleep habits are an important step in preventing the flu, so is nutrition. Maintain a good daily intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in order to prevent the flu. Taking a multivitamin is a good idea as well. And remember, excessive drinking dehydrates your body, rendering it more susceptible to a flu outbreak.
Wash hands regularly. The flue can easily spread through contaminated hand contact with the face, eyes, nose and mouth. Simply touching a doorknob can contaminate your hand with the flu virus. Not only should you wash your hands regularly to reduce your risk of the flu, but you should also keep your hands away from your face as much as possible. Now would be a good time to quit biting your nails, for example. If your eye itches, try to rub it with your shoulder.
Exercise. A good cardiovascular workout should be a regular part of your routine, especially during flu season. This kind of exercise naturally strengthens your immune system, helping you protect yourself from the flu.
Flu shot. The flu shot isn't 100% effective as flu prevention, and is available only to healthy adults. Effectiveness seems lower among the elderly, but doctors still generally recommend that a flue shot be administered to them as well. As long as you are not pregnant, immune-deficient or suffering from a serious illness, a flu shot might be your best protection against the flu. Flu shots are best administered in the fall season (October or November) so that your body has enough time to get the antibodies before peak flu season takes place during the winter.
Drink lots of green tea. Wake up to the power of green tea! Green tea can reduce harmful stress, fortify our cardiovascular health and provide a power boost to our immune system's T-cells. For more information, check out our article on health benefits of green tea.
Be cautious in crowds or classic flu-spreading situations. Child daycare, church, sporting events, concert halls, and (perhaps especially) airplanes all deserve special observance as high-risk flu areas. Wherever children congregate in large numbers, the flu is there too; kids generally don't wash their hands before rubbing their faces, and don't realize the importance of exercising a high level of caution.
Prevention is the best strategy for dealing with the flu every year. Once you have the flu, you must endure weeks of illness and recovery (check out our article about how to treat the flu). But by taking care of your body and observing simple sanitary rules, you can emerge from flu season unscathed.