4 Ways to Outsmart the Flu


flu-wash-hands
It doesn't have to be fancy. Plain soap and water can help kill infection-causing viruses.
(ISTOCKPHOTO)
Whether or not you get a flu shot, try these tricks to lower your chances of getting grounded by the flu, as well as to prevent colds and other infections.

Wash, over and over
Your hands need attention. Use plain old soap and water, and make sure to rub vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds.

Avoid crowds
The flu virus thrives on socializing. Do more shopping online than at the mall, and try to cover your face if someone sneezes near you.

Keep hydrated
Membranes in your nose and throat trap viruses and move them back out in the form of mucus. Drink lots of fluids and gargle to keep your membranes in fighting shape, says Neil Schachter, MD, author of The Good Doctors Guide to Colds and Flu. But avoid humidifiers; they can spread germs.

Do vitamins
Vitamin C may not fight off colds, but several experts still recommend it for keeping you healthy during flu season. Vitamin D and selenium may guard against the flu, too. Foods like orange juice or yogurt are usually fortified with vitamin D. And OJ has plenty of C. Brazil nuts and beef have loads of selenium.

This article was first published in Health magazine, November 2007.
Lead writer: Sarah Clachar
Last Updated: January 15, 2009

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