1. Eat Extra Fruits and Veggies
Loading your plate with extra fruits and vegetables during cold and flu season can help boost your immune system. Eating the most colorful varieties like sweet potatoes, blueberries and spinach will give your body an extra dose of antioxidants. If you don't eat enough fruits and vegetables, at least take a multivitamin. The vitamins and minerals in them will increase your overall immunity.
2. Floss your Teeth
The health of our teeth and gums is linked to our overall physical health. Those with poor oral hygiene and gum disease face a greater risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Flossing daily reduces the amount of infection causing bacteria that can linger in our mouths and spread to other parts of the body.
3. Get Your ZZ's
Sure it's holiday party season, but you still need to get enough sleep to keep your immune system strong. Getting enough sleep at night on a regular basis helps ward off sickness and promotes better health. While we might consider a good night's sleep a luxury, it's actually an essential component to our overall health and a major factor in disease prevention.
4. Exercise Regularly
When the weather turns cooler, many cut back on their regular exercise routine. Exercising at least four times a week can lower stress, improve immunity, and give our bodies extra energy to fight off any lurking germs.
5. Lather Up
The American Academy of Family Physicians emphasizes thorough hand washing as the best way to prevent the spread of illness and respiratory infections. One of the most common ways a person catches a cold is when they rub their hands on their eyes, nose or mouth, unaware that a virus has contaminated their hands. Since our hands touch so many publicly used items everyday like doorknobs, keyboards, and shopping carts, get in the habit of washing your hands whenever coming home from a public place, before eating, and after going to the bathroom. The CDC recommends washing hands with an antibacterial soap for at least 15-20 seconds.
6. Sanitize Surfaces
Countertops, light switches, kids toys and other high traffic areas in the house get touched constantly, and germs can live on these surfaces for up to 48 hours. If you have young kids at home, teach them healthy habits through games: To show them how germs are spread, sprinkle glitter on their on hands, explaining that the glitter represents germs. After awhile, have them go through the house wiping down all of the surfaces containing glitter.
7. Get a Flu Shot
According to The Centers for Disease Control, the single best way to avoid getting the seasonal flu is to get vaccinated, and this season an annual flu vaccination is recommended for all people ages 6 months and older. The flu shot can reduce a person's chances of getting influenza by up to 90%. To learn more about the 2010-2011 flu vaccine,click here.
If you experience cold and flu symptoms that don't improve after a few days or get worse, see a doctor. Most symptoms can be treated at a local urgent care center or retail clinic. To search symptoms or find a medical provider or facility near you, download the free iTriage app.