It’s that time of year when the dreaded, “something is going around” is being said. While we can’t keep everything away, there are many things that can help us stay just a bit healthier this winter. And big surprise, it isn’t staying in a plastic bubble, but healthy eating, exercise, rest and hand washing.
EAT A BALANCED DIET
Many people have no idea that 80% of your immune system is in the gut – your intestines. So, big shock now that you have heard this: eating a balanced, healthy diet can help promote a healthy immune system.
- Eat lots of whole grain, fruits, and vegetables. Especially vitamin C rich citrus fruits such as grapefruit, oranges, (including o.j.), tangerines, seasonal cranberries, pineapple (canned), potatoes, and peppers.
- Stay hydrated with water, 100% fruit juice (another good source of vitamin C) will also help. Herbal teas like chamomile or peppermint are also good.
- Too many caffeine, alcoholic, and/or sweetened drinks can hinder healthy eating. Watch and rethink your intake.
- Too many high fat and high sugar (junk) foods can take the place of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
- Don’t skip meals (especially breakfast). That can make you susceptible to minor illnesses like colds and flu.
- Eat a combination of protein and carbohydrate, whether a full meal or just a snack, approximately every 4 hours. Ideas: fruit and cheese, peanut butter and whole grain crackers, or ¼ cups trail mix.
Moderate exercise, whether indoors or out, can increase the immune function, so no quitting exercise in the winter.
- Exercise helps people reduce stress; stress increases your susceptibility to infection.
- Moderate aerobic exercise, 30-60 minutes, in any form raises the immune systems function.
- If you are not feeling well, start slowly and see how it’s going in 10 minutes. In 10 minutes, if you’re feeling OK, then continue.
- After an illness, start exercising slowly – 50 percent of your usual intensity – and build slowly.
GET PLENTY OF REST
Sleep is the time when our body repairs itself both mentally and physically. If we don’t get enough rest, then the body cannot repair itself adequately. If you are feeling tired then your body is telling you that it needs more rest to repair itself. “Listen” to your body and get more rest if you need to.
WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY!
If you sneeze or cough into your hand, go wash it. And don’t be offended if someone doesn’t want to shake your hand – thank them instead, they may have just kept you from catching a cold!
STAY AWAY FROM OTHERS WHO ARE INFECTED (AND DO OTHERS A FAVOR IF YOU ARE INFECTED AND STAY AWAY!).
Exposing others to your illness isn’t fair to them. If you feel something coming on, whenever possible, don’t go to school or work.