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Cold & Flu Immunity: Building a Good Defense

The magic bullets are just an arm’s length away.

As with everything in life, you take the good with the bad. And going indoors may be great for sheltering from the cold, but it will also expose you to more viruses. This is when a little active defense can go a long way.


Defense #1: Wash Your Hands

After the past nearly two years of a pandemic, you may be thinking you have this down. But think about how long and how often you wash your hands now versus at the start of COVID-19.

If you’re like many, you may have let your handwashing guard down a bit while leaning more on hand sanitizer and vaccines to do the heavy lifting. Resist becoming submissive in this department because proper handwashing truly is the most powerful defense you have to keep viruses away.

Washing your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds (two rounds of the “Happy Birthday” song) is your secret weapon. Just be sure to use a barrier between your hands and faucet handles when shutting off the water, such as your elbows or a paper towel.


Defense #2: Vaccines

Staying current with vaccinations continues to be a key to warding off the impact of viruses like influenza and coronavirus. Although vaccines won’t necessarily prevent viruses from making you ill, their impact will be severely thwarted. Think: weeks out of commission (or worse) compared to a few days under the weather.


Defense #3: Hydration

Proper hydration does a body great. From being able to help transport disease-fighting cells throughout your body, as well as waste, to keeping mucous membranes and skin soft and supple, water is essential for assisting your body do its daily tasks and preventing the invasion of harmful viruses and bacteria.


Defense #4: Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidant-Acting Plant Compounds

Speaking of assisting your body to do its thing, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, plant oils from nuts, seeds and cooking oils, as well as dairy products, all offer your body co-factors (or partners-in-crime, if you prefer) in resisting the impact invading bacteria and viruses can have on your cells.


What are these partners-in-crime? Vitamins like vitamins C and E, minerals like zinc and iron and antioxidant-acting plant compounds such as polyphenols like catechins in tea and avenanthramides in whole grains. Brought together, foods rich in powerful components like vitamins, minerals and antioxidant-acting plant compounds won’t “boost” your immune system but they will help provide support so it can do exactly what it is meant to do: protect you.