If you have a cold or the flu, don’t blame it on the coworker who was sniffling and sneezing last week. It’s time to blame your bad habits! Here are four surprising ways you’re making yourself vulnerable to cold and flu bugs:

  • You give in to your sweet tooth. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when blood sugar levels are high, your infection-fighting white cells don’t work as efficiently. In fact, even if you avoid sugar for the most part, just grabbing a couple of donuts will lower your immunity – and zap your ability to kill bacteria – for about 5 hours.

  • Procrastination. On any given day, we can only produce so many infection-fighting white cells. But putting things off until the last minute ramps up our stress levels. And stress prompts the release of white cells when they’re not needed – which means, you may not have enough cells to fight back when you come across actual bacteria.

  • Not drinking enough water. Dehydration makes it harder for our body to move disease-fighting white cells around – which means, they can’t get where they’re needed.

  • It’s time to stop panicking at the first sniffle! In fact, researchers say that a runny nose is actually a good sign. That’s because mucous membranes are the body’s first line of defense against germs. And your runny nose is really flushing out illness-causing bugs.

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