I think we could all spare 20 seconds to thoroughly wash our hands with soap and water. The simple task of handwashing prevents the spread of germs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following steps for handwashing.
Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
With reports of the flu already affecting people, it is time to do what you can to protect yourself from colds and flu. Here are some tips:
Get a flu shot. While no flu vaccine is 100% effective, it does reduce your risk flu-related hospitalization.
Eat more fruits and vegetables. Five servings a day gives you many antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to boost your immune system. Fresh, frozen or canned varieties are all beneficial.
Get up and walk! Even a brisk 20 minute walk in cold weather every day can reduce cold and flu symptoms.
Vitamin E builds the immune system. It can help the body’s response to the flu vaccine and risks of upper respiratory infections.
Consume foods rich in zinc which are found in meats and poultry, legumes, whole grains and nuts plus fortified cereals. Don’t overdo it as too much can be harmful.
Lose weight. A reduction in weight can improve the immune response. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations for best results.
Drink fluids. Water, or even green tea, is beneficial to reduce inflammation.
Wash your hands. This cannot be emphasized enough. Wash frequently and avoid rubbing your eyes and nose with dirty hands.
Sleep cures many things. Research has shown a link between a brain-specific protein and sleep that can fight flu symptoms.
Know your body. When you feel tired and run down, that stresses your immune system and increases your chance of illness.
What about vitamin C? While many think taking a lot of vitamin C can keep illness away, the science does not back this up. Vitamin C supplements will not prevent you from getting a cold, but might shorten the duration of illness.