Fight flu with probioticsWith autumn upon us and cooler temperatures on the way, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already begun posting comprehensive dos and don’ts about the 2013-14 flu season (that can begin as early as October and end as late as May). These reminders include all the reasons you absolutely need to get a flu shot.

However, if you’re feeling a little shy about getting a flu shot, there’s plenty you and your family can do to protect yourselves from the flu. Here are 10 completely safe, effective and natural ways to protect your health from the flu and boost your immune system naturally without a flu shot.

1) Wash your hands early and often with plain ol’ soap and water for at least 15 seconds to get rid of germs that may linger. There’s no need to use antibacterial soaps.

2) Don’t forget the exercise. Staying active with some kind of exercise program will help you stay a few steps ahead of the flu.

3) Get the right amount of sleep you need every night. Skipping valuable sleep time to catch the end of a late football game will catch up to you over time, leaving your body vulnerable to diseases like the flu.

4) Don’t overdo the antibiotics. Taking antibiotics every time you’re sick can deplete your immune system residing in your gut, leaving your body more vulnerable to disease.

5) Drink plenty of water. Depleting your body of the natural fluids it needs is one more variable among many that makes your body more vulnerable to the flu.

6) Keep your home extra clean to repel the bugs. According to the CDC, human flu viruses can survive as long as 8 hours on common surfaces (doorknobs, books and doors).

7) Take care of your emotions. Our go-go-go lifestyles don’t leave much time for you to handle stress as well as you should, so give yourself the gift of time—ideally 30 minutes a day—for you.

8) Eat the right foods, every day all the time. Even something as simple as a hot liquid like chicken soup may more helpful in treating congestion than consuming the same thing at room temperature.

9) Get enough vitamin D. However, before supplementing your diet with vitamin D, health experts like the Vitamin D Council recommend getting your blood levels checked often.

10) Take a multi-strain probiotic every day gives your body’s immune system a much-needed boost. Not only can taking a multi-species probiotic restore the healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, but it also boosts your body’s immunities naturally and safely.

Also, studies have shown probiotics containing lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium lactus strains like EndoMune Jr. can decrease cold and flu symptoms in kids, too.