If you’re in the thick of cold and flu season, and you’re nervous about getting sick, you’re not alone. December to February is peak flu season according to Web MD, and somewhere around 5-20% of us will catch the dreaded flu this year. Although 80% are in the clear, hardly anyone will avoid catching a cold: on average Americans catch 2-4 colds per year, and children typically contract anywhere from 6-10 colds per year. If you find yourself dreading all of this airborne illness, then fear not. There are things you can proactively do to greatly increase the likelihood of escaping winter with your health intact. Here is a round-up of 6 tactics to strengthen your immune system this winter.
Find A Way To Say No To Stress
If you want to stay healthy this winter, then stress has got to go. You may not be surprised to learn that stress can devastate your immune system. The presence of stress can reduce the effectiveness of T-cells, which are responsible for invading infected cells in the body. Also, it can often lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms and lifestyle choices that further weaken your immunity.
Whatever it looks like for you, find ways to be intentional about relaxation. If you’re strapped for ideas, then go back to the basics: diet, exercise, meditation, and spending time with loved ones. Also, if you want some quick inspiration, check out this article here, which lists 15 effective stress-busting techniques. You will find plenty of ideas to get your wheels turning.
Stay Away From Crowds
Everyone has to do the basics--grocery shopping, going to the gym, post office, etc--and that usually means droves of people. But if you can avoid it, try to steer clear of places where you have to be surrounded by others in close quarters. If you do end up in a big crowd, be sure to wash or sanitize your hands if you have to touch things like handrails, doorknobs, etc.
If you find yourself near a sick person, then if possible (politely) avoid shaking hands. According to Dr. Terri Remi of Medical Associates at Beauregard (Alexandria, VA), “Doctors tend to be very cautious of shaking hands.” One of the best preventative measures you can take against sickness is to avoid physical contact with people who may be contagious.
Take Digestive Enzymes
You might be thinking, "What do digestive enzymes have to do with immunity?" Well, a lot, as it turns out. It may surprise you to learn that 70% of your immune system is located in your gut! Furthermore, your gut health actually determines to some extent your ability to fight off disease. When you eat food that has been cooked or processed, your gut has to work overtime to break it down. Taking oral digestive enzymes can aid your digestion, which in turn may boost your immune system. Dr. Mehmet Oz writes that taking supplemental enzymes can, "support the proper uptake of nutrients and create an ideal environment for 70% of your immune system." Relieving stress on your digestive system is a great way to strengthen your body’s natural ability to maintain your health.
Take Some Vitamin D
According to a report from sciencedirect.com, many Americans fall short of their recommended dosage of Vitamin D. This is important, especially during cold and flu season. According to David W. Grotto, author of The Best Things You Can Eat, the D Vitamin is not only critical for developing strong bones, but it’s also key for regulating your immune system.
Taking a Vitamin D supplement could be a great way to make sure your body gets what it needs to maintain your immunity. Another way you can do that is by increasing your intake of foods high in Vitamin D. These may include: salmon, egg yolks, mushroom and many more. Just google for ideas!
Keep your House Spick and Span
We often don’t realize how many germs can cover the surfaces of our homes. Here’s a fun fact for you: your cell phone is 10 times dirtier than a toilet seat! But your phone isn’t the only culprit: dinner tables, doorknobs or anything you handle on a regular basis can be a place where germs thrive. Be sure to load up on disinfectant wipes that you can run across these places. Also! If you regularly share a space with others, whether at home or the office, you could be extra vigilant about cleaning those surfaces. Think about computers, keypads, your mouse, and any other objects that others might be using. These may all need to be cleaned in order to safeguard yourself against the spread of germs.
A Healthy Lifestyle Goes a Long Way
If you’ve had it with the yearly bouts with illness, then one of the best things you can do is to observe overall healthy habits. Diet, Sleep, Exercise, and Vitamins could all be key components in helping you maintain your immune system this winter.