Well, it’s that time of year again – cold and flu season is upon us. Hand in hand with the emergence of illness goes incredible marketing of a myriad of expensive supplements that may or may not work to prevent illness, medications to fight sickness and mask symptoms, tissues enhanced with everything from moisturizer to aloe to Vicks, and of course the flu shot. Trouble is, a lot of this stuff simply doesn’t work to help keep you healthy.
What if you could get through this year’s cold and flu season without any sniffles AND without putting a toxic load of chemicals into your body at the same time? Follow these simple tips to keep yourself and your family healthy this cold and flu season.
Remember all of the times your mom nagged you to wash your hands? Well, she was right. Wash your hands often and properly. Use hot water and make sure to lather the soap for at least 15-30 seconds before rinsing. How long is long enough? Sing one of your favorite childhood nursery rhymes like Baa Baa Black Sheep or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star while you are lathering. The feel good feeling from singing might just help too! Wash your hands after using the restroom, before and after meals, and anytime you enter your home. Steer clear of those anti-bacterial soaps and hand sanitizers though – some studies are suggesting that they may actually promote resistance to bacterial agents and make you more prone to illness.
Consider taking a daily probiotic. A healthy digestive system is the key to a strong immune system and some studies suggest that a daily probiotic can help you to achieve that. Remember to buy probiotics that have been stored in a refrigerator and keep them in the fridge at home for maximum effectiveness.
Take a walk outside for at least 30 minutes every day, preferably in the morning sunshine. Physical movement helps to keep your body healthy and being outdoors breathing in the fresh air will help supercharge your body with a rich flood of oxygen.
Eat Real Food
Eating healthy whole foods is critical in this season. Cooking whole foods at home ensures you’re eating things that are good for you and will minimize the chance of contracting illnesses while in a restaurant.
A good night’s rest will help keep your immune system strong. A 2009 study suggests that those who get less than 7 hours of sleep per night are 3 times more likely to catch a common cold than those getting 7+ hours. Check out this post for tips on how to improve your sleep.
Consider A Vitamin D Supplement
A February 2009 study (as well as a whole host of others) suggests that those who have a Vitamin D deficiency are more likely to contract the common cold and to develop upper respiratory tract infections. Since our bodies produce vitamin D in response to sunlight, many of us living in cold Northern climates can develop a level of vitamin D deficiency over the winter. A vitamin D supplement may help to keep your blood levels of vitamin D up, thereby keeping your immune system strong. Although the Recommended Daily Intake for vitamin D is 200 IU/day for most people, many prominent health professionals including Dr. Andrew Weil are recommending up to 2000 IU/day for maximum health benefit. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is considered to be better utilized by the body than Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), so choose your supplement carefully. And remember, be sure to talk with your doctor before starting any new supplements!
Photo Credit: Steve Knight