Annually, around this time of year, millions of Americans get vaccinated for the flu. But the influenza virus is a fickle bug and continues to rapidly evolve, making vaccinations irrelevant year after year. This winter, try these 8 timeless tips to avoid the flu without the shot.
1. Cover your face.
We’re all in it together; flu season happens to everyone. So help keep germs from spreading and cover your mouth and nose with a tissue every time you sneeze. For coughs? Master the art of the elbow cough. Cover your face with the entire inside of your elbow every time you cough. This keeps germs from spreading and your hands clean.
2. Wash your hands.
We all know this rule, but a reminder can’t hurt. Germs live on every surface you touch. The more you wash your hands, the more you wash these germs down the drain. And no matter how often you wash your hands, still keep them off your face. Rubbing your nose, mouth and eyes are a quick route to flu-land.
3. Eat your vegetables.
While this is sage advice all year round, it is extra important to eat right during flu season. Anti-oxidant rich vegetables keep our body’s immune system going strong. The three major anti-oxidant vitamins are beta carotene (asparagus, carrots, sweet potatoes), vitamin C (brussel sprouts, cauliflower, sweet peppers) and vitamin E (broccoli, chard, pumpkin). And have fun with it. Try a new recipe and invite some friends over for dinner…as long as they’re not sick.
4. Exercise regularly.
Every time you exercise, you build up your immune system. At least 30 minutes a day should do the trick, but more certainly can’t hurt! Don’t forget that exercise also helps reduce stress. Stress is another immune system killer.
5. Get plenty of sleep.
Your body needs time to recover, especially when you’re fighting off germs. Make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep a night and even more if you’re feeling under the weather.
6. Don’t smoke and drink less.
Even though the Rat Pack never seemed to get sick, science shows that their nasty habits of smoking and drinking all day really wears down your immune system. So, put out that cigarette butt once and for all and say no to that second glass of wine.
7. Drink Water.
Staying well hydrated keeps the tissues of the respiratory system moist and helps the immune system work properly, keeping the flu away. And if you do get sick, water flushes out your system, re-hydrates you and washes out the toxins. An adult should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids each day. If the thought of so much water sounds exhausting, squeeze in some fresh citrus juice to liven up that glass.
8. Disinfect common surfaces.
Viruses that cause colds and flu can survive on common surfaces for up to 72 hours. Use disinfecting wipes or spray on phone receivers, doorknobs, light switches, and remote controls. This isn’t just for home. Help your co-workers stay healthy this flu season and bring some wipes to the office.
Stay healthy and happy this winter so you can enjoy the holiday season (not the flu season) with your loved ones.