Clinical Pharmacist Jim LaValle's tips for Cold and Flu

Flu Season is Hitting the Nation Full Force What Can You Do To Stay on the Defense?

Flu season has arrived and the bug is biting hard this year. The Centers for Disease Control reports widespread outbreaks in 31 states, including Ohio. So what measures can you take to protect yourself this year? Clinical pharmacist, author, nutrition expert and founder of LaValle Metabolic Institute in Cincinnati, Jim LaValle is here to give us four tips for fighting off the flu:

Eat a Healthy Diet Rich in vitamin C and E: Foods containing these vitamins are believed to be helpful in support of the immune system. Foods rich in vitamin E include sunflower and corn oil, sunflower seeds and nuts such as almonds and peanuts. You can get your daily vitamin C from foods like orange juice, citrus fruits, broccoli and green peppers. Reduce your intake of excessive concentrated sugar which can impair immune response.

You should also wash your hands throughout the day.

Get a Good Night's Sleep: Lack of sleep may profoundly inhibit your immune system. Get a full night's sleep to keep your body's natural defenses at optimum efficiency. This is especially relevant to teenagers.

Stay Hydrated: Increasing your water intake will help you stay healthy. When you are feeling under the weather, drinking extra fluids prevents dehydration caused by fever, loosens mucus, keeps the throat moist and lessens the chance of contracting the flu. Warm liquids are preferable, and there is some evidence that inhaling steam early in the course of a cold or flu may reduce the spread of viruses in the upper respiratory tract. You may also want to consider a sinus wash.

Listen to Your Body: If you do come down with a cold or the flu, take it easy. Expending excessive energy steals valuable resources from the immune system. Even attempting to perform normal activities at work or school may be too much. Obviously, if you believe you're coming down with the flu, the best thing you can do for friends and family is to not expose them to the virus.

According to the CDC, up to 20 percent of the population gets the flu on average every year. Although common, it's not to be taken lightly; more than 200,000 people are hospitalized and approximately 36,000 people die from flu complications.

Get Your Flu Shot

If you're in one of the "at risk" categories, including children 6 months to 23 months, adults 65 and older, and people 2 to 64 who have chronic medical conditions, it's of the utmost importance to get your flu shot.