Health: Ways to Prevent Colds and Flu

Society | November 15, 2002, Friday // 00:00

Since there are no known cures for colds and flu, prevention must be your goal. A proactive approach to warding off colds and flu is apt to make your whole life healthier. The most effective way to prevent flu is to get the flu shot, doctors say. However, if you think that this is not natural, following are some other strategies you can employ as well.

** Wash Your Hands **
Most cold and flu viruses are spread by direct contact. Someone who has the flu sneezes onto their hand, and then touches the telephone, the keyboard, a kitchen glass. The germs can live for hours -- in some cases weeks -- only to be picked up by the next person who touches the same object.

**Don't Cover Your Sneezes and Coughs With Your Hands **
Because germs and viruses cling to your bare hands, muffling coughs and sneezes with your hands results in passing along your germs to others. When you feel a sneeze or cough coming, use a tissue, then throw it away immediately.

**Don't Touch Your Face **
Cold and flu viruses enter your body through the eyes, nose, or mouth. Touching their faces is the major way children catch colds, and a key way they pass colds on to their parents.

** Drink Plenty of Fluids **
Water flushes your system, washing out the poisons as it rehydrates you. A typical, healthy adult needs eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids each day.

**Get Fresh Air **
A regular dose of fresh air is important, especially in cold weather when central heating dries you out and makes your body more vulnerable to cold and flu viruses. Also, during cold weather more people stay indoors, which means more germs are circulating in crowded, dry rooms.

**Do Exercise Regularly **
Exercise speeds up the heart to pump larger quantities of blood; makes you breathe faster to help transfer oxygen from your lungs to your blood; and makes you sweat once your body heats up. The exercises help increase the body's natural virus-killing cells.

**Eat Vegetables and Fruit**
Put away the vitamin pill, and eat dark green, red, and yellow vegetables and fruit.

**Eat Yogurt **
Some studies have shown that eating a daily cup of yogurt can reduce your susceptibility to colds by 25 percent. Researchers think the beneficial bacteria in yogurt may stimulate production of immune system substances that fight disease.

**Don't Smoke **
Statistics show that heavy smokers get more severe colds and more frequent ones. Even being around smoke profoundly zaps the immune system.

**Cut Alcohol Consumption **
Heavy alcohol use destroys the liver, the body's primary filtering system, which means that germs of all kinds won't leave your body as fast. The result is, heavier drinkers are more prone to initial infections as well as secondary complications.

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