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Staying healthy during flu season

sneezingWhile the best way to stay healthy this flu season is to get vaccinated, there are some other things you can do to protect yourself.

Here are a few:

1.  Practice good hand hygiene. Encourage everyone in your family to practice regular handwashing, especially after using the bathroom, before and after handling or eating food and after coming in from the outdoors. Handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick and prevent the spread of germs to others.

2.  Take cover. Get into the habit of sneezing into your inner elbow. If you have a tissue, cover your nose and mouth with it when you sneeze or cough.

3.  Don’t touch. Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose or mouth with your hands.

4.  Replace and wash items. Buy a new toothbrush after a cold or other illness. Wash your bedding at least once a week, especially pillow covers. Wash gloves, scarves and any other attire that covers your face or mouth. This is helpful in keeping germs away.

5.  Stay hydrated. Dry nasal passages make it easier for the flu virus to breed, so its important to drink plenty of fluids. Water is a natural moisturizer for the inside of your body. Aim for eight cups of water a day. Swap out fizzy carbonated drinks for herbal tea. Increase your fluid intake if you are on a high-fiber or high-protein diet.

6.  Keep it colorful. Eating lots of junk food, skipping meals and consuming lots of caffeine can increase your chances of becoming ill. Eating a well-balanced meal comprised of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins can help keep you healthy. Need some food inspiration? Check out some of these healthy recipes: http://blog.affinityhealth.org/?s=recipes

7.  Take time to relax. Managing stress and making time for relaxing activities is very important in maintaining good health. Meditation, exercise, napping, getting a massage or reading is a good way to reduce stress. Carving out “white space” in your calendar so you can fit these things into your life is the first step in claiming some “me” time.

8.  Get some ZZZZs.  According to the National Sleep Foundation adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep a night. A lot of Americans do not get enough sleep. Lack of sleep wreaks havoc on your health and can make you more susceptible to illnesses. It can contribute to work errors, car crashes and industrial disasters. Sleep deprived individuals are also more likely to suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes, depression, obesity, etc.

Hopefully, following these tips will help you stay healthy! If you do get sick, treat yourself kindly. It takes energy for your body to fight the organisms making you sick. Stay home to avoid spreading germs. Rest, proper nutrition and hydration will help. Stay well!

About Julia Salomón MS, RD, CD

Julia is the corporate dietitian at Affinity Health System and also a nutrition educator. She works at various sites throughout the organization working with Affinity’s employee wellness program. She earned her Master’s degree in nutrition science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996 and became a dietitian shortly thereafter. Julia has worked on several nutrition projects abroad as well as domestically. Before joining Affinity Health System in June of 2011, she worked as a college dietitian and later in the school nutrition field. She has earned certificates of training in adult and childhood weight management. Julia has a special interest in nutrition, public health and wellness.

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