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Want to fight the flu? Wash your hands.

We’ve heard it before; hand washing is one of the most important steps to avoid getting sick and spreading germs.

It seems simple enough. But here’s the scoop on doing it right.

Lather and scrub. This creates friction, which helps lift dirt, grease and microbes. Microbes are present all over your hand and particularly so under the nails. Scrub a dub, dub, dub about 20 seconds, or two verses of “Happy Birthday” song.

When you’re finished singing, dry your hands. Germs are more easily transferred to and from wet hands.

Handwashing can prevent about 30 percent of diarrhea-related sickness and about 20 percent of colds and other respiratory infections. Even more, preventing illness reduces the amount of antibiotics people use and the likelihood of developing antibiotic resistance. Reducing the number of these infections by better hand washing helps prevent the overuse of antibiotics—the single most important factor leading to antibiotic resistance around the world. Handwashing can also prevent people from getting sick with germs that are already resistant to antibiotics and that can be difficult to treat.

Yep, clean hands are a recipe for health. But adequate sleep, managing stress, physical activity, not smoking and eating well also keep your immune system strong and healthy. Because only one in ten Americans eat enough fruits and vegetables, this easy Spinach Tomato Pasta is a delicious way to help move the needle on the eating well business. The anti-inflammatory plant compounds found in dark green, red and orange vegetables are so rich, they should be on the menu 3 to 4 times per week.

With blistered tomatoes, fresh spinach, zesty lemon and crunchy pine nuts, I think you’ll like twirling your fork around this one-pot meal.

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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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