1: The number of days you can spread the flu before symptoms develop and you’re still contagious up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.

3 to 4: The number of days the flu will make you feel like you’ve been hit with a truck. That is tired and achy, have a headache, fever, cough and fatigue. Though it could last up to 2 weeks.

3 to 5: The minutes the flu virus survives on your hands.

6: The number of feet flu germs can spread by a sneeze or cough from an infected person.

48: The hours the flu virus can live on a surface.

20: The number of seconds you should wash your hands to prevent spreading (or picking up) flu germs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says washing your hands is the top defense to stop the spread of germs and the best way to reduce your exposure to the flu virus. Soap, water and 20 seconds of scrubbing is what it takes. Germs can get into the body though the eyes, nose and mouth, places we touch without even realizing it. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to clean hands.

Cover your mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, or cough into your arm. The flu virus survives only 3 to 5 minutes on your hand, but left behind on another surface, it can live up to 48 hours. Think about the things you touch in a day that can harbor the flu virus — cell phones, remote controls, computer keyboards, doorknobs, sponges, toothbrushes, soap dispensers, shopping carts, handrails and the buttons of microwaves, vending machines, elevators and ATMs.

Flu viruses are killed by heat above 167° F. Common household cleaning products also kill the virus, including those with chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), alcohols and iodine-based antiseptics.

The CDC recommends a flu vaccine as the best way to reduce the risk of getting the flu and it may make the illness milder if you do get sick. It’s not too late to get one. Doctor’s and public health offices plus many drug stores and grocery stores offer them.

If you do get the flu, fluids may help you feel better, sooth a sore throat and relieve congestion. Fever, runny nose, and coughing dehydrate you so sip some chicken soup, broth, juice, hot lemon water, tea or cocoa.

Though foods don’t prevent you from getting the flu, your best way to stay strong is a healthy lifestyle. Eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, being physically active, getting adequate sleep, reducing stress, and not smoking keep your immune system healthy.

In this recipe I go big on spices and vegetables. Literally. I steamed the whole head of cauliflower. Yep, just plopped it in a pan and steamed if for about 10 minutes. A bag of fresh or frozen cauliflower also works. The ingredients offer bold flavors and lots of antioxidant compounds to help keep your immune system strong.

Judy Barbe is a registered dietitian, speaker and author of “Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest: Simple Solutions for Fresh Food & Well-Being.” Visit her website www.LiveBest.info for every day food solutions.

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