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Colds, Stomach Bugs & The Flu

Germs certainly know how to get around in winter. If a person infected with a respiratory illness sneezes or coughs near you, you can inhale the germs. Then there are stomach bug viruses. These nasty little germs can be spread by sharing food, water or utensils with people who are, or have recently been, sick. People don't have to be visibly sick to transfer germs they may be contagious before they exhibit symptoms or even after they're feeling better. Fortunately there are many precautions we can take to avoid winter illnesses. We know what most of them are but that doesn't mean we don't need reminders.

Strengthening Our Immune Systems

Your immune system is like your body's own superhero. An incredibly complex system, it fi ghts bad bacteria, all day, every day, just to keep you healthy. At any given time, there are a host of harmful bacteria, viruses and other organisms that are trying to invade your body. Your immune system works on multiple levels to protect you. It protects your body through barriers like skin and mucous membranes. Substances like tears, mucus, sweat and stomach acid, are equipped to trap, immobilize and kill germs. Your immune system isn't all brawn... it's brainy, too. If you have been exposed to a particular disease before, your body can learn to recognize it and fight it off the next time you are exposed. Your immune system is indeed amazing, and part of what makes it so is that it does all this automatically├Ĺbut you have a role to play.

Get a rotavirus vaccination for children

Rotavirus is the leading reason for severe vomiting and diarrhea among children. Children can receive a rotavirus vaccination that offers protection against this potentially serious illness. Contact your pediatrician or the Centers for Disease Control for more information.

EAT A DIET THAT HELPS STRENGTHEN YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

Nutrients like the B vitamins, vitamins C and D, beta carotene and other carotenoids, zinc and selenium are essential to maintaining a healthy immune system. That translates to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and peas, along with lean meats and poultry, fish and low-fat dairy products. A multivitamin supplement may help if you fall short in some areas, but don't depend on supplements to take the place of a healthy diet.

EXCERCISE

This strengthens the immune system, but be careful, excessive exercise can actually have the opposite effect. Exams and screenings can help find problems before they start. Schedule a visit with your healthcare provider for an exam. Ask what vaccinations and tests you should get based on your age, lifestyle, medical history, and family health history.

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