By Dr. Scott Saunders

Flu season is upon us, and while many people take the preventative measure of receiving a flu shot, there are other ways you can combat this highly contagious virus. Instead of being left out in the cold, try adhering to these tips to fight off the flu and the costly symptoms it brings.

Take a Few Extra Seconds — Wash Your Hands!

Sounds simple enough, right? But do you consciously think about washing your hands outside of the restroom? Hospital studies show that washing your hands is the most important preventative measure you can take to avoid the spread of communicable disease. It’s apparent that the virus may be spread to others just by touching hands. If you’re in a public place, remember to take a few extra seconds to wash your hands when you arrive and before you leave. You don’t have to have a “reason” to wash them — just do it often as a precautionary measure.

5 flu shot supplementsExercise Like Your Health Depended on It

Our immune systems are very complex, but I’ll make this one easy for you. Infectious agents bombard us every day, and, for the most part, we are able to fight them off. Exercise releases endorphins throughout the body, which make us feel good, calm our nerves, and quell the excess adrenal hormones that suppress our immune system. When we are stressed, we have too much cortisol, so exercise alleviates our stress and controls this hormone, thus allowing our immune systems to better fight off infections.

Eat This, Not That

When we eat things that contain processed ingredients, such as sugars, starches, MSG, and other chemicals, we feed certain bacteria in our intestines that suppress our immune system. Conversely, consuming natural foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables that contain fructooligosaccharides, inulin, and other prebiotics that feed the good bacteria in our intestines, allows our immune systems to function much more efficiently.

Fighting the flu starts with which aisle you stroll through. Think consciously about the food you’re buying at the grocery store, and you’ll be rewarded with fewer trips to the doctor.

Get Some Sun, or the Next Best Thing

The sun helps our bodies feel better and keeps depression down. It also creates the hormone melatonin, a key player in boosting our immune systems. Most importantly, it is our primary source of vitamin D, which is the only substance proven to actually prevent the flu. During the winter months, there’s less sun and we aren’t outside as much, so we produce less of this essential vitamin. When it’s cold, I recommend taking vitamin D3 (the natural form) to give your body assistance in preventing viruses.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Lastly, a very powerful aspect is our emotional state of mind. It can be a catch-22 of sorts — when you’re sick, you’re not happy, so how can your attitude possibly help? A combination of these tips should help you maintain a positive attitude and fight off depression. When you aren’t sick, keeping your anxiety levels low is an integral step in preventing infections from infiltrating your immune system. There is a measurable difference in the number of white blood cells (immune cells) in those who are worried, depressed, and anxious, and those who are happy.

Whether it’s exercising daily or simply washing your hands throughout the day, preventative measures are available to fend off viruses during the flu season. Combining and carrying out all of these tips is your best way to remain healthy, so give it a shot — and you may never need that other kind of shot again.

What are your alternative ways to stay healthy this flu season?

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Dr. Scott Saunders, Home Cures That WorkDr. Scott Saunders
 is the Health and Nutrition Advisor of Barton Publishing, a company that promotes natural health through teaching people how to cure themselves using alternative home remedies instead of expensive and harmful prescription drugs. Saunders is the director of The Integrative Medicine Center of Santa Barbara, which balances conventional medicine with alternative healing modalities to achieve optimal wellness.