Use nutrition, hygiene in defense against the H1N1 swine flu:

Question: Is there a vitamin, mineral, herb, spice, food or drink that can help ward off swine flu or lessen its severity?

Answer: The H1N1 virus (the one that causes swine flu) is so new that there hasn’t been time to come up with specific nutrient recommendations yet. You should follow the same nutritional strategies you’d take to prevent and treat influenzas of any sort:

Keep your body functioning its best with a basic healthy eating plan — mostly fruits and vegetables, lean meat, nuts, 100 percent whole grains.

During flu season, highlight foods like apples, broccoli, tea and red onions. These are rich in a flavonoid called quercetin, which has been shown to keep immunity running high even when your body is tired.

Eat chicken soup, and take 500 milligrams of vitamin C twice a day; these help your immune system produce more disease-fighting cells to kill invading viruses.

However, the two most important things you can do to ward off the flu aren’t even related to what you eat or drink.

First, and most important, wash your hands. With soap and water. For 15 to 20 seconds. Let us repeat — if you shake hands, touch something, prepare food to eat, finish eating or if you have just flushed, hit the suds. Carry an alcohol-based sanitizer for situations where there is no soap and water.

Second, get a grip on stress. The more you’re stressed, the greater your risk of infections.

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