Every fall, we brace ourselves for cold and flu season. But this year, with the introduction of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, the precautionary measures we take are even more important.
Healthy Habits: Standard Preventive Measures
Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends. These methods can also help protect you against this year’s flu and the common cold.
- Avoid close contact with others when they’re sick or you’re sick. Be aware that individuals can have COVID-19 — or any virus — but not display symptoms.
- Try to maintain a distance of 6 feet from others whenever possible. If you do feel sick, it’s best to stay home.¹,²,³
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water. When soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and remember to wash your hands directly after.¹,²,³
- While the development of a vaccine for COVID-19 is still in progress, the CDC recommends flu shots as the single best way to prevent the flu.²
Proper Nutrition: The Unsung Hero of Prevention
By now, you’re probably familiar with the preventive measures above. But what you may not realize is that the foods you eat, or don’t eat, can also help prevent illness. According to The Mayo Clinic, certain foods — and what’s found in them — can boost our immune system and reduce chronic inflammation.4 Here are a few from their list.
- Fruits and Veggies
No one is going to be surprised to see this on the list of recommendations. But the science behind this is that fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to perform vital functions, including warding off viruses. You can probably guess Vitamin C is on that list. That’s because it reduces inflammation, which is the body’s response to infection or damage.
Foods that contain vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, kiwi, kale, and broccoli.
These nutrients preserve function of our immune cells against intruders. The three major players, according to WebMD, are beta-carotene, and vitamins C and E.5 Eat the rainbow to get a healthy supply of these immune-boosting compounds.
Foods that contain antioxidants include blueberries, bell peppers, mangoes, kale, sweet potatoes, and even dark chocolate.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omegas are anti-inflammatory by nature. They help control inflammation brought on by infection but also chronic inflammation, which contributes to heart disease and cancer. Fight infection now and disease down the road.
Foods that contain Omega-3s include fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, and you can find smaller amounts in walnuts, pecans, ground flaxseed, and soy.
So there you have it. Washing your hands, avoiding close contact with others, and eating well can help keep you from getting sick this year. Here’s to an illness-free season!
1 “Healthy Habits to Help Prevent Flu,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, August 2020
2 “Common Colds: Protect Yourself and Others,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, February 2019
3 “How to Protect Yourself & Others,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 2020
4 “How to Use Food to Help Your Body Fight Inflammation,” Mayo Clinic, August 2019
5 “Super Foods for Optimal Health,” WebMD, August 2019
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