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5 Ways to Protect Yourself Against the Flu

written by America's Nutrition Expert: Mitzi Dulan, RD, CSSD
Nov
19
2013

Screenshot 2013-11-19 UPDATENovember typically marks the beginning of that yearly-dreaded flu season. It’s time to make your health a priority.  Don’t wait to get sick before starting to get healthy.  By following these 5 tips this season, you can build up your body’s defense system to help avoid getting sick altogether!

1. Stay Healthy with Adequate Sleep

Numerous studies show that people who get less than 7 hours of sleep a night have decreased immune systems, making them more susceptible to the common cold.  Inadequate sleep has also been linked to increased cholesterol and blood pressure, and the development of chronic diseases.  Make sure your getting the right amount of Zzz’s, at least 7-8 hours a night, to ensure that you’re body’s defense system can be extra alert to fight off those germs.

2. Power Up Your Immune System with Protein

Protein is an essential nutrient for maintaining important body functions and building muscular strength.  Additionally, protein-packed foods are full of other important vitamins and minerals, like B vitamins (B6, B12), selenium and zinc, to help build our immune systems even more!  Great source of lean protein include (chicken, lean beef, pork tenderloin, canned tuna), legumes, fish, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts etc.

3. Fight it with Your Fruits/Veggies

When it comes to getting the most nutrients, it’s always good to boost your intake a immune boosting foods.  That’s why the fruits and veggies you consume have a major impact on your ability to fend off the flu.  Many contain vitamin C–which studies have confirmed to effectively prevent against colds—along with vitamins E, A and additional antioxidants found in these nutritional powerhouses.  Our fruit and vegetable intake tends to decrease during the winter months, so make an extra effort to insure you’re getting a minimum of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. I also make sure that my clients are taking a good multivitamin and mineral. My favorite for my family is SmartyPants Gummy Vitamins. It is an all-in-one multivitamin + omega 3s + vitamin D, which I love. They offer both Gummy vitamins for Kids and Adults and I feel lucky to be working with the folks at SmartyPants. I don’t know about you but I often forget to take my vitamins but always seem to remember with the SmartyPants Gummy Vitamins!

4. Wave Bye-Bye to Germs by Washing Your Hands

We come into contact with millions of germs every day, so it’s important to properly wash your hands or use hand sanitizer throughout the day.  When washing, makes sure to rub your hands and wrists firmly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, or as long as it takes to sing the “A,B,C’s” to yourself.

5. De-Stress to Defend Against Germs

Why is it that we always seem to get sick at the worst times– a looming deadline, a jam-packed planner, a big family get together, etc?  Well believe it or not, this is no coincidence, and the number one culprit—STRESS.  Studies shows that stress tends to wreak havoc on our immune system’s ability to defend against germs which inevitably leads to getting sick.  Find your favorite ways to relax like yoga, meditation, walks outside or a bubble bath to de-stress and defend yourself against the flu.

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