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The Flu and the Importance of Supporting Your Immune System

With the onset of winter comes a barrage of news stories about influenza scares, such as the avian bird flu in Asia , which is expected to spread worldwide unless major preventative measures are taken. There are steps that we can take to our immune systems resistant to the onslaught of the flu epidemic, which usually spreads during the winter months.

Although the frigid weather itself has not been proven to cause the flu, it increases other causing factors. The chill of winter drives us indoors, increasing person to person contact in close quarters, spreading germs that can cause the flu. The cold also encourages us to be less active, since we are able to perform fewer activities outside, such as yard work and outdoor sports. However, practicing preventative care can build up your body's resistance against the flu.

Other factors can make your immune system more vulnerable to the flu, such as a high stress level, and poor diet and exercise. Stress produces the hormone cortisol, which weakens white blood cells' ability to fight viruses. Therefore it is important to try and get a full night of sleep, so that your body can repair itself from the ravages of stress. Build your body's natural resistance to germs by getting moderate exercise and eating healthy. Staying active is important, because moderate exercise raises your core body temperature, which kills off bacteria that may be lurking in your bloodstream. It is also important to include vitamin-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains to build resistance against potential infections. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend vitamin and/or herbal supplements that can also build up your natural immunities.

Another way to shield the body from harmful flu germs is to try and avoid them. Steer clear of anyone who is sick, but if you are exposed, try to keep your home and/or work area as germ-free as possible with antibacterial cleaners and sprays. Frequent and thorough hand washing is also a must, especially after exposure to germs. Also, avoid touching your face, since placing potentially exposed hands near your eyes and nasal cavities brings you into the most direct contact of the virus. Using preventative care now can spare you the aggravation and agony of the chills, aches and pains that accompany the flu, and will put you on the road to a happier, healthier winter season.

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Now you know one of the secrets of staying in top shape during the flu season, its keeping your immune system functioning properly.

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