(CNN/Gray News) – With the United States experiencing its earliest flu season in 15 years, health experts are advising us to do what we can to pump up our immune systems.
The first line of defense is a flu shot. They’re recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older.
Even though the flu season has already started, it’s not too late to get vaccinated.
“Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are used to make the vaccine.”
Diet plays a role in fortifying your immune system, too.
Supplements like vitamin C, echinacea, elderberry, ginseng and zinc all have shown some promise in fighting the flu.
Sugar and alcohol consumption do just the opposite – both suppress your immune system.
“Especially during flu season, we need to be very aware of how much we're drinking alcohol and how much added sugar we're eating and minimize those," according to Elyse Sartor, a registered dietitian.
And cleanliness is also important during flu season.
The flu virus can live on surfaces for several hours, so wash your bedsheets, blankets, towels and your hands to reduce your risk.