Nutrition Articles

Beat the Flu! Here's How

Tips to Prevent and Overcome Winter Viruses

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When a virus enters your body, one of three things can happen:
  1. The virus can die, OR
  2. Your immune system can activate and kill the virus, OR
  3. The virus can survive, multiply, and produce a cold or the flu.
How do you keep this from happening? 

Prevention
  • The power of produce: Plant foods contain natural disease fighting compounds called phytochemicals and antioxidants. These substances can enhance your immune system. Therefore, eat vegetables and fruits at least 5 times a day, preferably 7-9 times.
  • Exercise: Regular, moderate exercise will stimulate the fighting T cells into doing their job – attacking foreign invaders like germs and viruses.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: To improve your immune system and resistance to disease commit to these guidelines: do not smoke, sleep 7-8 hours each night, eat a nutritious diet that includes breakfast, and avoid (or take steps to reduce) mental stress.
  • Germs: To avoid the spread of germs, wash your hands frequently with warm soapy water (for at least 20 seconds), and do not share cups or food.
  • Water: Drink 8-12 cups of water every day. Water helps to cleanse the body and remove toxins, including germs. By keeping body systems, especially the respiratory system, well hydrated, you can enhance your virus-fighting potential.
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • SKYFROG
    Actually, the old saying is "IF you starve the cold, you feed the fever" when we have a cold, our taste buds are not very active and food just isn't as appealing. Remembering that we need nutrition more than ever and continuing to eat healthy meals will help us feel better faster.

    It's funny how the little IF at the beginning of the phrase has been dropped over time, leaving us with a mysterious either/or situation. Let's put the IF back where it belongs. - 12/21/2013 1:39:29 PM
  • I appreciate this article mainly because it focuses on prevention through means of common sense and a healthy lifestyle. It is a reminder to have a healthy lifestyle throughout the year not just during the winter months. I especially like the fact the author did not say get the flu shot because there are things that we can do to prevent getting the flu. - 11/30/2013 9:16:20 AM
  • Several years ago my employer offered free flu shots to everyone. An error was made and live vaccine was given. We all got really sick. Three years ago I had a bad reaction to a flu vaccine. My doctor said every year he has a few patients who have bad reactions. So I skipped a year. Last year I knew I was going to be in the hospital so I got one. Didn't get sick so I suppose I will get one this year. - 9/10/2013 8:58:33 AM
  • OKBACK2ME
    You know you are still liable to get the flu whether or not you get the flu shot! The flu shot only protects against two or three, sometimes four types of the flu. There are thousands of different types of flues out there. What the hope and the word is hope to do is control the flues that they feel may cause the most deaths. It is causing contriversary where I live. Especially since they have had studies showing the shot is less than 50% effective against the flu they have been designed for and even less for Seniors.

    I think washing hands often and not touching your mouth or eyes before washing them with soap in water are the most effective ways of preventing the food along with a healthy diet and sleep. - 12/16/2012 9:30:53 PM
  • So you didn't get a flu shot even though it was recommended and then you got the flu! Well now what? After you get well from that bout of the flu if it is still early in the flu season GO GET A FLU SHOT! There is more than one strain of the flu and the shot will protect you from the ones you didn't get when you caught the flu in the first place. Unless of course you want to offer yourself up to the flu viruses then just go on your merry way, but stay away from the young and the elderly and anyone else who might have a poor immunity. Protect yourself and those around you! Get your flu shot. - 12/13/2012 1:49:28 PM
  • Or get a flu shot and don't worry about it. - 10/20/2012 9:41:08 PM
  • Echinacea: you need to check on this if you have an autoimmune disease.
    Thanks for the reminder that H2O is the way to go.
    I heard zinc may help, does anyone know? - 10/20/2012 8:30:17 PM
  • Agree with MARAUDE and MDSCINCIAGAIN. I am sorry SP is putting out such malarkey. - 10/20/2012 1:07:16 PM
  • I sure wish I had seen this about 4 weeks ago when the FLU was invading my body. But I did drink lots of water and juice and my neighbor brought over chicken soup and I really drank my orange juice so 3 of these surly helped me fight it off a bit faster. Great read. - 10/20/2012 1:01:16 PM
  • GARBLEDEEGOOK
    Check this out if you want more info: http://www.skepdi
    c.com/vitacon
    .html - 10/20/2012 9:10:41 AM
  • GARBLEDEEGOOK
    Seriously, where do you get your "facts"? As MDSCINCIAGAIN said, the vaccine is the only PROVEN way to prevent the flu. Everything else is anecdotal and/or inconclusive. - 10/20/2012 8:52:47 AM
  • FLU VACCINE is the only proven way to prevent (specifically) the FLU. All the other suggestions are helpful for preventing any airborne respiratory illness, and should be headed, because they are helpful. The FLU SHOT cannot give you the flu. You may feel a little achy or feverish for a day or two, but that is just your immune system telling you to slow down because it is busy working on something- namely antibody to the flu. Anyone who gets sick weeks later is coming down with something else. - 10/20/2012 8:17:32 AM
  • My naturopath doctor (she's an actual MD) said there is no actual conclusive research on Encanacia (sp?) helping to boost the immune system. However, Elderberry HAS been documented to help. Anyway, taking both can't hurt and hopefully help. - 10/20/2012 1:16:06 AM
  • I've been sick for days, with flu like symtoms, I haven't relly eaten much, but I was craving, orange-pineapple juice, drunk allot of it.I felt a little more alive after drinking it for a while. - 8/21/2012 9:25:45 AM
  • I agree every time I have gotten the flu shot .. I get yucky feeling for more then a week! I'd rather get the flu. Its over faster! But I have heard from some that certain people are can't take to this shot.. I must be one of them!! - 12/3/2011 12:29:44 PM

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