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How to Beat the Flu This Year

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Flu Fighters

After you've gotten your flu shot, follow these additional strategies to reduce your risk of getting sick.

Wash your hands.

The influenza virus is highly contagious and spreads easily. Experts suspect that it can live on objects such as telephones, doorknobs, computer keyboards, and elevator buttons for as long as 48 hours. To protect yourself, wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water.

Eat a balanced diet.

Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein, and low-fat dairy can give you the vitamins and antioxidants you need to help keep immunity strong and boost your disease-fighting white blood cells.

Exercise.

At the Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, researchers found that people who walked at a brisk pace for 40 minutes five days a week had half the number of sick days of those who didn't exercise.

Get enough rest.

Research shows that lack of sleep can reduce your number of natural killer cells -- the body's defense against infection. Aim for seven to eight hours every night.

Don't smoke.

"People who light up are much more susceptible to the flu," explains Gilbert Ross, MD, executive and medical director of the American Council on Science and Health in New York City. That's because smoking impedes the body's ability to fight off infection.

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