One of the things that many people dread about wintertime is the flu. If you’ve ever had it, you know that it’s no fun. There is no cure for it and there is little that you can do besides wait it out. The best that modern medicine can offer is medications that might make your suffering a day or two shorter.

Flu vaccines are made available every year but they carry some pretty heavy risks. With the shortages and batches of bad vaccine that have surfaced in the past few years, it can be hard to get one even if you want to. There are ways that you can lessen your chances of getting the flu without getting a flu shot.

Keeping Your Immune System Up to Par

Your best defense against the flu is a healthy immune system. Keeping your immune system in good shape will help you fight off all diseases more effectively, including the flu. There are a few things you can do to make sure your immune system is in good shape.

* Eat a healthy, balanced diet. You need to make sure you are getting plenty of vitamins and minerals from food sources. Getting them in your diet is more effective than getting them through supplements. Fruits and vegetables provide excellent nutritional value and many of them are high in antioxidants.

* Get plenty of rest. Not getting enough rest causes you to feel tired which in turn also makes your immune system tired. It will fight off threats much more efficiently if you get the recommended 8 hours of sleep each and every night.

* Exercise. Working out will improve your overall health and get your blood pumping, circulating your disease-fighting cells. That means that they can find and attack flu germs and other germs more quickly, increasing the chance that they can fight them off before they take hold. Those who exercise also have a tendency to sleep better naturally.

Fighting Germs

A healthy immune system will fight off germs. Keeping the germs away in the first place is also a good idea. Here are some ways to do that.

* Wash your hands frequently. It’s always a good idea to wash your hands before eating, after going to the bathroom and when cooking. During flu season you’ll need to wash them more often. Using an antibacterial soap is not necessary. Just washing in warm water with plenty of soap for at least 15 seconds will get rid of most germs.

* Keep surfaces clean. This is especially important when there are kids around. Cleaning toys, tables and other surfaces with soap and water will keep germs at bay.

* Stay away from those who are sick if possible. At least try to avoid close contact with them and wash your hands as often as possible.

The flu vaccine is not the only option for avoiding the flu. By keeping your immune system healthy and avoiding exposure to those who have the flu, you can reduce your risk without exposing yourself to more risks.

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