There is a lot of anxiety these days with the cold and flu season coming up, especially with the widespread of H1N1 (swine flu), and the number of ongoing infections reported across our nation. Nonetheless, there are several simple but important measures we can follow in order to keep ourselves from getting the flu and spreading it to others.

Some of these basic practices include:

  • Hand washing: frequent, effective hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds removes pathogenic microorganisms including viruses, and reduces the chance of spread via objects and surfaces we touch or come in close contact with. When hand washing is not available, use a waterless hand sanitizer – but wash your hands as soon as possible.
  • Eat healthy: This is one of the best preventative medicines. Eating a diet rich in wholesome foods, with plenty of vegetables and adequate amounts of protein strengthens our immune system. Refined sugars (i.e. chocolate, candy) and simple carbohydrates (i.e., breads, pasta, pastries) weaken our immune system by slowing down the white blood cells that fight viruses and bacteria; therefore, sugars should be avoided.
  • Get enough sleep: adequate sleep allows our bodies to rest, recuperate and build a strong immune system. Get adequate sleep and rest at night.
  • Additional supportive measures: Some important vitamins and minerals that have been shown to play a role in strengthening our immune response include Vitamins A, C, E, D and Zinc. But consult your physician before starting any supplement regimen to determine the best doses for you and your loved ones.
  • Remember, if you develop a cough or other flu-like symptoms such as headache, fever, chills, nausea, vomiting or muscle aches, STAY HOME! It is the CDC’s recommendation to help prevent the spread of flu by staying home up to 24-hours after the resolution of fever symptoms.