According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 5-20% of people in the U.S. will catch the flu virus, 200,000 of whom will be hospitalized due to the complications (source). Although you can catch the flu virus at any time of the year, it’s far more prevalent during the fall and winter months. To protect yourself against the flu, colds and other illnesses this fall, check out the following 6 tips.
#1) Stay Active
Exercise plays a direct role in the human body’s immune function. Whether it’s running, jogging, playing tennis, or using your preferred machine at the gym, physical activity stimulates white blood cells and antibodies, sending them throughout the body. This improves the immune system’s ability to fight off infectious diseases, so be sure to exercise on a regular basis this fall.
#2) Increase Your Vitamin C Intake
Vitamin C is a naturally occurring antioxidant that can improve your health and protect against illness. A study conducted in 2007 found that a daily 200 milligram dose of vitamin C when taken at the onset of a cold shortened its duration by 8% in adults and 14% in children. With fall and winter being the prime time of year for colds, it’s a good idea to supplement your daily diet with at least 75 milligrams of this powerful antioxidant.
#3) Cut Back on Refined Sugars
Consuming too much refined sugar can increase your risk of developing type II diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. It’s also been proven to suppress the immune system, leaving individuals more susceptible to disease and illness.
So, how sugar should you consume to stay healthy throughout the fall season? The American Heart Association (AHA) currently recommends a maximum of 37.5 grams of refined sugar per day for men and 25 grams for women.
#4) Eat Fall-Colored Foods
Yet another way to improve your health is to eat more fall-colored foods. Generally speaking, the more color you have on your dinner plate, the better. Foods that are bright orange, red and green are all excellent sources of vitamins and antioxidants. Some ideas include squash, bell peppers, zucchini and broccoli, all of which will help keep you healthy this fall season.
#5) Make a Soup
There’s no better time than the chilly fall season to make a hearty beef and vegetable soup. Avoid store-bought soups, which are usually loaded in sodium and preservatives, and instead make your own from scratch. This allows you to include a variety of beneficial vegetables and seasoning, tailoring it to your own personal preference.