Healthy diet, flu shots among tools to fight influenza

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Parents want to make sure their children have a fighting chance against the viruses that circulate this time of year.

The Centers for Disease Control expects the flu season to hit the U.S. in December, and many respiratory infections are already going around.

Kimberley Cunningham is a mother, and she said her family’s choice of food is part of their plan to stay healthy.

"Nutrition is important so you have a robust body,” she said.

Abigail Cunningham, Kimberly’s daughter, agreed.

"I eat lots of healthy foods,” she said.

Medical experts said the first line of defense is a flu shot.

"It’s actually important for kids older than 6 months to go ahead and be vaccinated,” said Jim Murphy of Guardian Urgent Care.

There are traditional shots as well as other options, including the needle-free flu mist, which attacks the virus where it "lives" in the nasal area.

At home, fight viruses with a power packed diet. Your arsenal should include plenty of dark green, leafy vegetables; fruit; protein and calcium.

Studies show exercise revs up the immune system, so make sure your child gets at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Once you make sure your child is eating right and getting enough exercise, you want to make sure they're getting enough sleep every night.

Sleep allows the body to repair damage and build its defenses. Children between the ages of 3 and 6 need 10 to 12 hours of sleep per day. School aged children and teens need at least 9 hours.
There are signs that let you know when your child isn't getting enough sleep.

Dr. Sheila Tsai of National Jewish Health said: "In adults, we might feel sleepy or fall asleep unintentionally. But in children, they may actually exhibit hyperactivity."

Most of us are destined to catch a bug at some point, but putting together a plan now means a better chance of fighting illness in the weeks to come.