It’s that time of year—flu season. While many opt for the flu shot, some believe this is not the best option for them, and others may not be able to get it because of allergies. Even if you do get the flu shot, there are still other minor illnesses that are more prevalent around this time of year. The good news is, there are ways to boost your immune system, so whether you get the flu shot or not, you’ll decrease your chances of coming down with something.
Get Your 5 A Day—and More
As the saying goes, you are what you eat. If you eat well, you’ll increase your chances of being well. Make sure you’re getting a good variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those high in vitamin C. Five servings a day is recommended, but for an extra health boost, more can’t hurt. You can also add more health-protecting benefits to your diet by drinking green tea, getting plenty of water, and taking a good quality multivitamin.
In addition to eating your five a day, consider adding probiotics to your daily diet. These healthy bacteria have numerous benefits; including helping your body fight off harmful bacteria and boosting your immune system. Some familiar foods, like yogurt and sauerkraut, contain good amounts of probiotics, but if you aren’t a fan of these, you can also get probiotics in pill form or in a powder that can be mixed with cold beverages.
Wash Your Hands
Before you eat, after cleaning, or after using the bathroom—we know these are times when washing our hands is a must. But during flu season it’s even more important to wash your hands frequently, even after activities when you might not consider it necessary. Shaking hands with a friend, shopping, holding a door open for someone while out in public—all of these are opportunities to come into contact with germs that could cause illness. To avoid picking up unwanted germs, wash your hands when you can, and keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your purse or pocket for when you can’t.
Though it is very kind to visit a friend who may be feeling under the weather, it is of course best for your health if this can be avoided. Share your sympathy with a card or phone call instead. If someone in your household is ill, try to avoid prolonged contact and be extra careful about not sharing germs. Keeping bottles of hand sanitizer in convenient places around the house is a good way to remind yourself and those in your household to keep hands clean and prevent the spread of illness.
It’s well known that eight hours a night is the recommended amount of sleep adults should be getting. This is even more important if you’re trying to prevent illness. Sleep deprivation stresses the body and puts your immune system at risk. If you have trouble getting enough sleep at night, try to rest during the day if possible by doing deep breathing exercises or other calming activities that help you fully relax.
While the above tips will all help protect you during flu season, you can strengthen your immune system even more if these tips are followed all throughout the year. Limiting sugary, fatty foods, not smoking, getting enough exercise, and all of the above advice can have no adverse effects and can only protect you when flu season rolls around… What have you got to lose?