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How To Stay Healthy During Flu Season

To avoid getting sick this flu season, ignore those juices and supplements which claim to “boost your immunity” or “support immune function” as these are simply marketing terms. Instead, make sure you are eating your way to a healthy immune system all year long.

When it comes to getting sick, there are a number of factors that can influence your susceptibility. After being exposed to a virus, these factors determine whether you actually get sick, and the severity of it.

First off is your pre-existing immunity, either from being previously exposed to a similar strain or through a vaccine. It is said that the first flu strain you were exposed to can affect your protection against new strains.

The status of your immune system plays a role as well. For example, people with untreated HIV or those who have just received a bone marrow transplant have weakened immune systems and, therefore, cannot fight off infections like healthier people can.

Age is also a factor, with the very young and elderly often experiencing more severe flu symptoms.

And, not surprisingly, what you eat matters. A healthy diet supports a healthy immune system. It should include protein as well as micronutrients such as vitamins C, A, and E and zinc. The best way to get your nutrients is through a varied diet with sufficient amounts of proteins and a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Whether you eat a healthful diet or not, you are likely getting your nutrients through fortified packaged foods (ex. cereal). Though relatively uncommon in the United States, nutrient deficiency does occur. According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), less than 10% of the population is deficient in micronutrients. Those at risk are vegans who are not careful about their food choices and elder adults whose diets are limited and monotonous.

If you are neither malnourished nor nutrient deficient, taking extra vitamins will not “boost” your immune system or prevent you from getting sick. While vitamin C is believed to be beneficial in warding off sickness, it does not prove to reduce the incidence of colds. However, some evidence shows that it may cut down the duration of the cold. Still, it is better to get nutrients by eating fruits and vegetables rather than using supplements or fancy juices.

The best way to stay healthy and keep your immune system in tip top shape is to consume a healthful diet, get sufficient sleep, exercise, keep up with flu and pertussis vaccinations, avoid sick people, and wash your hands.

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