5 tips to keep your family healthy this flu season : Augusta Free Press

healthcareIt’s likely you’ll start to notice an increase in coughing, sneezing, and sniffles over the next few weeks and seasonal allergies might not be the culprit.  October marks the start of the notorious flu season and while the number of cases doesn’t typically peak until January, it’s never too early for prevention. Here are five important tips to keep you and your family happy and healthy this flu season.

1. Maintain A Nutritious Diet

Eating healthy is a great way to protect your immune system in general, but bumping up your fruit and veggie intake while cutting back on junk foods can give you the upperhand needed to make it out of flu season unscathed. Foods high in vitamin C and E are especially good immune boosters, while foods high in sugar and refined oils work against the body, competing with your body’s ability to properly absorption these nutrients. Try adding more citrus, greens, and even some extra garlic to your meals and you may be pleasantly surprised with the lack of sniffles this season.

2. Drink Enough Water

Along with a vitamin rich diet, staying hydrated is another great way to keep those sniffles at bay. Drinking 8 glasses a day not only rids the body of toxins, it also oxygenates the blood, which means your cells will be ready to take on the world. Alright, not necessarily world, but they will definitely be at the top of their game when those flu germs come knocking.  An easy way to combine these first two tips is to start the day with a glass of water with fresh squeezed lemon- hydration and vitamin C in one delicious concoction.

3. Get Adequate Sleep

Getting a good night’s rest is also very important. Unfortunately, it’s something that many of us struggle with and stressing about how well we’re sleeping only seems to make matters worse. Eight is the magic number that most of us strive for each night, but everyone’s body is different. Some people only require 7 hours, while others need 9, so it’s important to keep an eye on your sleep habits and adjust your regiment according to what makes you feel your absolute best. Avoiding electronics one hour before bed and cutting back on the caffeine before your slumber can help you get the rest required to restore your health and boost those flu-fighting antibodies.

4. Wash Hands Properly

And you’re going to need those antibodies when the fits of sneezing and coughing surround you this season. Fortunately for us, avoiding those nasty germs can be solved with something as easy as washing them away. Making sure your family is up to speed on proper hand washing procedure can keep those nasty microbes at bay, but it’s estimated that 95% of us aren’t doing it right. It’s important to remember that water temperature is not as important as the 20 second rule for lathering up. Keeping bathroom, kitchen, and work surfaces sanitized with household cleaners and soap will also do the trick. Luckily, flu germs can be destroyed quickly and easily when outside the body, but the same can’t be said once they’ve entered our system, so eliminating them before they have the chance to wreak havoc is your best bet.

5. Get Vaccinated

While all of these tips will give you a leg up this flu season, getting vaccinated is by far the most effective way to avoid the virus altogether. Most doctor offices and hospitals are stocked and ready to administer the antidote, but there are a good number of people who worry that the shot does more harm than good. It is a complete myth that you can get the flu from the flu vaccine, and frankly a dangerous one. Those who choose not to vaccinate against this year’s strain are putting themselves at risk for no reason. If cost is an issue, there are several drug stores and clinics across the US that offer discounted shots with some offering them up for free. Check with your local health department for more information.