It’s October and fall for most of the country – changing leaves, cooler temperatures and ah yes, the beginnings of the dreaded cold and flu season.
We all hate being sick…it’s one of those instances where I would rather BE AT WORK than sitting in bed with a sore throat, runny nose, fever and a host of other familiar ailments connected with the common cold and flu.
The best way to avoid feeling like this is taking precaution against things that may trigger these symptoms. Remember, the cold and flu virus is always with us…it’s a matter of triggering it to become active.
Minimize your risk of contracting a debilitating cold and flu this winter by following these 10 simple steps:
1. Get plenty of sleep
Rest and relaxation isn’t just for the soul…studies show sleep deprivation makes you more susceptible to the common cold and flu by reducing the number of cells in the body dedicated to fighting microbes and other things. Adults need 6-8 hours sleep per night…kids need a little bit more and toddlers and newborns require up to 18 hours of sleep per day.
2. Get up and move
It’s proven fact that exercising and physical activity increases sickness fighting cells. And it’s great family time too! Hike, bike, walk, do some yoga or just dance to some good tunes to get yourself moving and build your body’s natural defenses.
3. Be a germ vigilante
Kill and prevent germs from spreading and multiplying. Wash your hands judiciously before and after meals, after working or playing outdoors, handling pets, blowing noses and after being anywhere in public. Soap is as good as the antibacterial liquids that are so popular these days.
If someone in the house gets sick, keep their toothbrush separate and wash it in boiling water after the illness has passed.
4. Drink plenty of fluids
Fresh, filtered water is the best! We all know how important it is to drink fluids while we’re sick but it’s just as important to preventing illness. Keeping respiratory system tissues moist prevents microbes from settling in. Proper hydration also keeps the immune system working properly.
5. Get some fresh air
Open doors or simply crack a window a few minutes each day and get indoor air pollutants out of your house that may be stressing your immune system. Fresh air also chases away germs.
6. Dial down the heat
Viruses like the cold and flu thrive in warm, dry environments. And it’s easy for a dry nose, mouth or throat to trap those germs. Lowering your thermostat by 5 degrees and having a humidifier helps maintain a healthy level of humidity…50%…in your home.
7. Relax, take it easy
Take a few minutes for yourself each day to just close your eyes, take deep breaths and mentally escape to better thoughts. Meditation reduces stress which in turn reduces susceptibility to illness.
8. Eat plenty of produce
Fruits and vegetables like oranges, carrots, kiwis, strawberries and more contain immunity boosting phytonutrients like vitamin C and carotenoids. Green vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower contain betacarotene, vitamin C and calcium but overcooking can destroy properties of these foods that enhance the immune system. See to it your child eats at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
9. Watch your intake of sweets
Sugar makes the body more acidic which is an ideal environment for pathogens to thrive. They love sugar so reduce your intake of sugary foods and drinks during cold and flu season. And this includes corn syrup and HFCS as well.
10. Take a vitamin supplement
A vitamin C or multivitamin supplement can make up for gaps in your diet. Alarmingly, only 2% of kids today get their vitamin requirements through diet alone. A multivitamin or mineral supplement is not only important for fighting off cold and flu viruses, but an important part of proper of healthy growth for kids.
Well, I’m going to try my best to follow all of these steps and hopefully prevent myself from getting sick this year. Coming down with the cold or flu takes valuable time away from everything – work or play.
Missing a vacation because you’re sick is the worst…but follow the above steps and you will definitely have a greater chance of enjoying a healthy, happy winter.