How to Fight Off the Flu

By Rebecca Jones

Cold and flu season is upon us once again and that means where ever you go children and adults alike are sneezing, sniffling and coughing. With the holidays rapidly approaching no one has time to stay in bed so it is time to declare germ warfare and protect yourself from all those viruses lurking on door handles and water coolers. Considering that viruses can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours it may seem like you are signing up for a losing battle but all is not lost; there are certain steps you can take to keep yourself healthy through the winter.

Wash Your Hands
This may sound obvious but washing your hands often and thoroughly is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself from germs. For maximum effectiveness be sure to scrub your palms, between fingers and the backs of hands for at least 20 seconds with soap. In a pinch you can reach for the hand sanitizer but make sure it is at least 60% alcohol.

Watch Your Alcohol Consumption
Between the office parties, holiday celebrations and shorter, colder days it is tempting to reach for that third cocktail but alcohol can have a negative impact on your immune system. According to a study in BMC Immunology, overindulging in alcohol can hurt your white blood cells’ ability to fight off viruses for up to 24 hours.

Catch up on Your Sleep
We know you are busy what with holiday shopping, work and family events but not getting enough shuteye can really take a toll on your health. People who routinely get less than 7 hours of sleep a night are up to 3 times more likely to catch a cold than those who get the full eight hours. If you have to decide between another hour of reruns and bedtime, head to bed the payoff will be worth it.

Load up on Antioxidants
Antioxidants boost your immune system and combat the free radicals that break down are defenses. According to Dr. Ben Kim, red, kidney and pinto beans are one of the best sources of antioxidants so why not make an immunity building chili to get you through those long, cold winter nights. Adding a few cups of green tea or blueberries to your diet can also help boost your antioxidant intake.

Not only will regular exercise throughout the winter keep you fit and trim it can also help ward off illness. Exercise both builds up the immune system to keep you healthy and helps work the cold virus out of the body faster. Not only will you ward off illness but the endorphins released during exercise can work wonders when it comes to warding off the winter blues.