Take steps to ward off flu | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Take steps to ward off flu

Darla Mazzoni

I’m beginning to think I’m becoming neurotic. It seems everyone around me has a cold or the flu or some other dreaded malady. I wash my hands 20 times a day. I use my sleeve to open doors. I keep my distance from anyone who even presents a runny nose. I refuse to get sick; wishful thinking on my part! Now I’m feeling headachy and feverish and I think I’m coming down with something. I’m so careful, how could I get sick? Caught by the bug, here I go into the downward spiral of misery and flu.

How can you keep your immune system in tip-top shape and avoid these pesky infections? It all comes down to a healthy immune system. The immune system consists of a very complex and well-regulated system that defends the body against outside foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. If these invaders penetrate the body, the immune system attempts to speed recovery by decreasing the severity of the illness.

Exercise and nutrition can greatly affect the body’s immune system. Strong research suggests good nutrition and moderate exercise is a positive benefit to the overall function of the immune system. Studies done on physically active vs. sedentary individuals found that people who exercised suffered fewer upper respiratory infections than sedentary people.

Moderate exercise seems to regulate positive stress responses in the body that clearly affect your susceptibility to illness. Exercise increases your protection against viruses by strengthening your immune system.

Just as exercise gives you added insurance against getting sick, good nutrition is the other half of the “insurance policy.”

The immune system responds most sensitively to subtle changes in nutrition. When you consume nutritious food, the immune system has the tools necessary to keep working strong and effective. Take away its “nutritious tools” and the immune system is compromised, opening its doors to illness and disease.

Nutrition is a key player in maintaining a healthy immune system. Proper nutrition can help prevent illness by supporting the immune system, enabling it to fend off infection. As a former surgeon general stated wisely, “your choice of diet can influence your long-term health prospects more than any other action you can take.”

So, what are the steps you can take to avoid saying that dreaded “oh no, I think I’m getting sick” line?

–Get out and exercise. Include 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise daily.

–Eat well-balanced, nutritious foods daily. Include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables of every color.

–Take a multivitamin/mineral supplement daily to ensure adequate protection against nutritional deficiencies.

–Stay within your healthy weight range. If you are trying to loose weight, do so slowly and aim for 1 to 2 pounds per week. Rapid weight loss can suppress immune function.

–Infections are passed via hand contact. Wash your hands frequently and rinse well. Avoid touching your eyes and nose.

–Limit your consumption of alcohol. Heavy alcohol use is known to cause deleterious effects on the body’s systems and organs.

–Stay well hydrated. The body’s systems are able to work very efficiently in a well-hydrated state.

–Get plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation is a sure way to increase your susceptibility to illness.

Stay healthy this season by following these simple but effective steps. There’s a bad flu bug going around and believe me, you don’t want it.

Eat well, exercise well and by all means, stay well!

– Darla G. Mazzoni, an ACE certified personal trainer, can be contacted at mazzoni@etahoe.com

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