With the flu season in route and all of the funky weather patters (thanks El Nino), it’s safe to say we should keep our immune systems in tip top shape. Below are 4 tips that offer the top ways to steer clear from getting sick this season other than just avoiding your sneezing co-worker:

1. A Flu Shot


Doctors agree that this is the single most effective thing you can get to keep from getting sick. “But there’s still a lot of confusion about flu shots,” says Tom Talbot, M.D., an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University. You see, the flu virus changes yearly, so scientists have to scramble to create a vaccine for it—and it doesn’t always work. But, on average, the shot still reduces your chances of getting sick by up to 70%.

EXPERT TIP: Studies show that a workout after the shot speeds circulation, boosting its effectiveness.

2. Hand-Washing or Sanitizing


“It sounds so obvious, but there’s a reason why our life expectancy has improved over the centuries as we’ve learned hygiene interventions,” explains Talbot. Germs live on things like door handles and elevator buttons for up to three days. “You don’t need to obsess over it,” says Cunningham-Rundles. “Just wash your hands more.” Talbot and Cunningham-Rundles agree with the CDC that washing is more effective than using sanitizer because it removes the grime rather than sterilizing it.

EXPERT TIP: Carry a pen so you don’t have to borrow one (or, worse, touch the one at the bank).

3. Plenty of Sleep


Sleep is hugely important in boosting immunity,” says Cunningham-Rundles. One new study in the journal Sleep found that people who get five to six hours are four times as likely to catch a cold than those who sleep more.

EXPERT TIP: The same study found that all it may take is adding one hour to your nightly total.

4. A Healthy Diet


“The best way to get vitamins and nutrients is through real food,” says Bay Area–based nutritionist Saskia Kleinert. She suggests vitamin C–heavy fruits like oranges and strawberries; leafy greens for vitamin A, which inhibits replication of viruses; and probiotics like yogurt, so-called immuno-potentiators.

EXPERT TIP: Kleinert recommends a daily smoothie:

2 cups kale, 1/2 cup strawberries,

1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup yogurt, 1 tbsp organic honey.



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