Cold and flu season is here, and if you haven’t created a strategy for building your immune system and combatting illnesses, now is the time to do so. Though you can’t control where or when you may be exposed to cold or flu germs, there are things you can do to help prepare your body to fight off all types of infections more effectively. Here are a few cold and flu prevention basics everyone should know about and implement especially during the fall and winter seasons.
One of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family is to get educated about the colds and flus going around and how to prevent them from entering your body and home. One way you can prevent certain strains of the flu is by getting your flu vaccine every year. Though there are various strains of the flu that go around annually, the flu vaccine can help give you protection against the most common types forecasted for the year.
Get Enough Sleep
You will find that getting sufficient sleep each night is crucial. Adequate sleep is essential for immune health. One or two nights of less than 5 hours of sleep may not do much damage for the long term, but chronic lack of sleep can wear down all your body’s systems, including your immune system.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Lack of sleep and excessive stress tend to go hand-in-hand, and they can both contribute to immune system weakness. If you’re dealing with excessive stress at work, home or school, brainstorm ways to minimize your stress levels for the sake of your health. You may need to say no to opportunities if your schedule is already too full to manage. If you need a little more support because of chronic symptoms of anxiety, irritability and stress, consider an OTC product such as Brillia, a homeopathic product that can improve concentration and reduce anxiety and stress without harmful side effects.
Practice Clean Eating
Eating healthy foods and avoiding sugary, heavily processed foods is one of the most important things you can do for your health during cold and flu season. In particular, berries, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables contain high levels of vitamins and minerals that are known to improve immune function and health.
To put things simply, clean eating involves focusing on whole foods that are as close to their natural form as possible and are minimally processed. When you’re focused on clean eating, the areas of the grocery store where produce, meats and dairy products are located is where you should be spending most of your time. You may also wish to visit your local health foods store more often to pick up whole products and supplements that may not be readily available in regular grocery stores.
Take Your Vitamins
Your body needs vitamins and minerals in order to function optimally in all areas. Here are some of the most important vitamins and minerals you need during the cold and flu season, and the foods you can find them in.
- Vitamin C: This is one of the most well-known vitamins for reducing the duration of the common cold. However, it’s important to note that this vitamin may not be effective at reducing cold duration if you take it once a cold is already developing. According to studies, you’ll get more effectiveness from vitamin C if you take it before you exhibit any symptoms of illness. For this reason, many people choose to include vitamin C as a daily supplement throughout the cold and flu season. This vitamin can be found in broccoli, cauliflower, winter squash, spinach, green and red peppers, and tomatoes.
- Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 is also known as pyridoxine and is involved in more than 100 enzymatic reactions in the body. It’s involved in immune system function, brain development and nervous system function. One of the most notable symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency is a decrease in serum antibody production and a weakened immune system. These can lead to a higher likelihood of developing respiratory infections and the flu. To keep your vitamin B6 levels healthy, eat more salmon, tuna, potatoes, chickpeas, chicken and/or liver.
- Vitamin D: Also known as “the sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is proven to reduce the duration of chronic viral infections and the flu. It’s estimated that approximately 85% of people in the United States alone have a vitamin D deficiency. This can affect the body’s ability to fight off a variety of illnesses. It is especially important for people who already have low levels of vitamin D to eat more foods that include this vitamin during cold and flu season. Supplementation may also be required to restore healthy levels of this vitamin. You can find vitamin D in mushrooms, salmon, egg yolks, sardines and fortified foods.
- Zinc: If you want to combat sickness more effectively, zinc should be in your arsenal of healthy supplements and foods to consume. It helps your cells fight off disease and sickness and improves your immune response. It does this by boosting the activity of natural killer and macrophage cells. Taking zinc can reduce symptoms of colds and flus and help you stay healthy year-round. You can find this important nutrient in yogurt, seafood, legumes, red meat and seeds.
These are just a few of the top nutrients your body requires in order to battle the cold and flu. Try to get them from natural foods, but don’t hesitate to supplement as needed.
Sanitize & Wash Your Hands Regularly
When you touch an infected surface and then touch your nose, eyes or mouth, you give the germs an easy way to enter your body. That’s why it’s so important to wash and sanitize your hands regularly. You should clean your hands before eating and anytime you leave a public area such as the grocery store, library, school and as soon as you get home.
This simple guide doesn’t include any secrets the average person doesn’t already know. However, these easy practices can help you fight off cold and flu whenever possible and prepare your body to fight off any illnesses you do develop.