Tips For Staying Healthy During Flu Season

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COLUMBIA - Looking for different ways to stay healthy during the holiday season? Well, Dr. Christopher Link said one way to prevent the flu is to maintain a healthy diet.

"A diet that's really high in fruits and vegetables, like 7-10 servings a day, has all the nutrients, the magnesium, the minerals, the vitamins, the vital nutrients, those really improve our immune system," said Dr. Link.

However, officials said even though a healthy diet is important for the immune system, the best way to prevent infection is to get your yearly vaccination.

Boone County Health Department Public Information Officer Genalee Alexander said, "We recommend healthy living, we encourage that all the time.  We encourage hand washing, staying away from people that are sick. But we know, that all those things are great but your best protection against the flu is getting your flu vaccine every year," said Alexander.

Alexander says there's no connection between the flu vaccine and then getting sick. "People sometimes think that they get sick after they get the flu vaccine. There could be a couple reasons there. Yes, you are going to have some redness, some soreness at the injection site, it might feel a little sore.  Another thing is, you can be exposed to the flu by people who don't even know they have it. You may actually be exposed to the flu before you ever even get the vaccine," said Alexander.

She added it takes about two weeks for your body to build up protection after getting the flu vaccine. 

Dr. Link said there are certain super fruits that can help boost your immune system to help prevent illness. "I really like the citrus fruits for the winter because they are high in Vitamin C and we know from studies that Vitamin C decreases viral illnesses in the winter," said Dr. Link.

Dr. Link said there is one particular berry that is grown around Missouri that helps to fight colds. "An Elderberry has terrific anti-viral activity. People can take it in the form of a concentrated berry juice, about a tablespoon a day, if you are really prone to these infections. And if you get one, if you start taking the elderberry early on, within the first day or so of getting the cold, and you take a tablespoon of the juice four times a day, it can decrease the duration of the illness and make you feel better sooner," said Dr. Link.

Officials say there are several other tips to help preventing the flu including:

  • Practice good hand hygiene
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • Stay home if you are il
  • Avoid contact with other sick people
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Get a lot of sleep

The Health Department in Columbia offers free flu vaccinations for anyone 18 years and under. An appointment is not necessary and anyone can come in Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.