Flu season is here again, and with its arrival comes the possibility that you’ll end up coughing, sneezing and aching your way through winter. Probability doesn’t have to become reality, though: You can avoid becoming a flu statistic this year. Here are some easy and important ways to stave off the virus.
Get the flu shot
The single most important — and easiest — way to prevent getting the flu this season is to get the flu shot. Health Canada recommends a yearly flu vaccine for nearly everyone, especially for those at a high risk of developing complications as a result of the flu. See your doctor to discuss your flu shot options and whether you’re a good candidate to get the shot.
Don’t share food/drinks
Germs travel through saliva and bodily fluids, so avoid sharing utensils and dishes with anyone else. Even if someone doesn’t look sick, she could still be infected with the flu virus.
Wash your hands with soap and water
Research by the Public Health Agency of Canada shows soap and water is more effective at stopping the spread of infection than antibacterial gels and sanitizer. The key is knowing how to wash your hands properly. To kill all bacteria you’ve picked up during your commute or by shaking someone’s hand, rub your paws together vigorously for 10 seconds –or for as long as it takes for you to sing Happy Birthday — ensuring you clean between your fingers and under your fingernails.
Eat a balanced diet
The immune system requires a variety of nutrients to keep you healthy and to run at optimal effectiveness, so eat a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables. One of the most crucial flu-fighting vitamins is vitamin C; its antioxidant compounds stave off free radical damage and boost the body’s production of white blood cells, which the immune system uses to fight bacteria.
Get enough sleep
The body requires rest to heal and repair itself from the free-radical damage it sustains during the day. Getting seven to 10 hours of sleep a night is also necessary to maintain a healthy immune system. Ensure your sleeping environment is conducive to sleep — that means dark and cool — and always make resting up a priority.