9 Ways to Stay Sniffle-Free
It's that time again
Everywhere you go, people are sniffling, sneezing, and coughing. Think you're next to get sick? Not necessarily. "There are no guarantees, but you can seriously lower your odds of illness by taking simple precautions to avoid germs and keep your immune system humming," says Sandra Fryhofer, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine.
Use this checklist to stay healthy through cold-and-flu season and beyond.
Say yes to the flu shot
When to get your flu shot
Eat to beat illness
Essential power players include high-quality protein, such as fish, lean meats, and beans, needed to help build white blood cells (the body's defenders); brightly colored fruits and veggies, which provide immune-boosting antioxidants; and omega-3 fatty acids (good sources include fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseed) to keep the immune system balanced.
Just don't overdo it: Heavy exertionlike marathon trainingmay increase your risk of catching seasonal bugs, perhaps because it can stress the body's systems, allowing viruses to gain a foothold.
Hydrate inside and out
If you're going to be in a superdry environment like an airplane cabin, protect yourself by using a saline nasal spray to moisten the membranes in your nose. "When nasal passages are hydrated, the cilia, hair-like structures lining the nose, do a better job of keeping bacteria and viruses out," Dr. Fryhofer says. Drink plenty of water, too: Your body needs H2O to execute many key immune functions, Dr. Katz says.
Aim for three servings a day of probiotic-rich foodsyogurt with live bacteria, aged cheese, kefir, or other fermented foods (like sauerkraut or kimchi), says Gary Huffnagle, PhD, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School and author of The Probiotics Revolution. If you prefer a supplement, Huffnagle recommends choosing one with 3 billion to 5 billion CFU (colony-forming units).
Sleep on it
Give germs the slip
Dodge germs in the air
And do your part to prevent the spread of germs: If you do get sick, sneeze into your sleeve, toss tissues immediately, andif possiblestay home until you're better.