ATLANTA - Navigating cold and flu season can be tricky, because you're surrounded by germs and sick people.
But, as a doctor, WebMD medical editor Dr. Hansa Bhargava says she has a 5-step plan to avoid catching a virus.
Tip #1? .
"I wash my hands," Dr. Bhargava says. "I know that is a really simple thing, and you've probably heard it a 1,000 times, but it works.
"Before you eat, before you touch your eyes, before you touch your lips, make sure you wash your hands a lot, especially during this season."
Step #2, Bhargava says she's careful about what she eats.
She tries to get plenty of fruits and vegetables and colorful foods in her diet.
"Because fruits and vegetables have a lot of vitamins and minerals," Bhargava says. "And those actually interact with your immune system, to help, when you do see an infection, to help fight it off."
Step #3: because chronic sleep loss can weaken the immune system, Bhargava makes sleep a priority.
"Most adults need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep, kids need even more," she says. "So make sure you're getting enough sleep, because again that will help your immune system be at its maximum level."
Common areas, like countertops and door handles get touched often, and can be hot spots for germs.
That brings us to step #4.
Bhargava wipes surfaces down.
"And, if there is something you use a lot, like your keyboard or your cellphone, chances are there are lots of viruses on those areas," she says. "So wipe them off on a regular basis."
Finally, Bhargava says, she steps up her exercise in the winter months.
"The healthier your body is, the better it will fight off infection," Bhargava says. "So, if you can even get 20 minutes (of exercise) once every two days, start with that. The ideal is a half an hour every day. That will actually help you and your immune system a lot."
So, when germs come calling, your body can say, 'No, thanks."