Avoid Getting Sick with These Healthy Habits
Every year it hits us like a ton of bricks – flu season that is! Don’t let this year’s cold and flu season knock you down. Instead, take steps in your daily routine to help prevent everyone in your household from getting sick. Not sure what’s worthwhile and what’s a gimmick? We’ve got you covered! Here are 9 Ways to Naturally Stay Healthy During Cold & Flu Season.
1. Get Adequate Sleep
Lack of sleep is a direct contributor to getting sick. Without adequate sleep the body is unable to fully rest and restore leaving you feeling rundown and sluggish. Not only do you feel tired and out of sorts when you’re not getting enough sleep each night, but lack of sleep also plays a huge role in the health of your immune system and chances of getting sick. The less sleep you get, the more susceptible you are to catching a bug or virus during cold and flu season months. Adults should aim for 7+ hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Take steps to set up a calming environment; try white noise, blackout curtains, and temperature control. If you’re still having trouble getting your brain to shut down when you’re trying to get some Zzzz’s, try a meditation app for 10-20 minutes before sleep.
2. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
We’re not just talking about eating right, exercising and sleeping more – reducing your participation in things like alcohol and smoking cigarettes (if applicable) will undoubtedly improve your immune system health tremendously. It’s no secret smoking cigarettes and overconsumption of alcohol has a negative affect on the human body and immune system. If you smoke, consider a smoking cessation program or tool to help you reduce or quit smoking. If you drink, aim to limit intake to weekends or socially, anything less than what you’re doing now is an improvement and will benefit your body’s ability to fight off bugs and viruses during the flu months.
3. Keep Your Surroundings Clean
A clean environment is a healthy environment. Science says that clutter and a messy environment contribute to stress and anxiety by causing the release of the stress-hormone cortisol. If you’re under stress and anxiety, you’re more likely to make poor choices like overeating, poor sleep habits, and turning to food for comfort. And if there’s no relief from stress, other areas of the body system will be affected including the immune system response leaving us more at risk of catching the cold or flu when the season hits. Aim to spend 10 minutes each day de-cluttering and cleaning up your living space. If you have too much stuff, consider a garage sale or donating to a local charity. Divvy up the chores amongst those in your household so that it doesn’t all fall on your shoulders. Keeping a cleaning routine or schedule is important to maintain your newfound clean environment.
4. Take Black Elderberry
There aren’t many supplements that help build a strong immune system, but Black Elderberry is one of them. Black Elderberry contains compounds that act as flavonoids and anthocyanins that work to strengthen the immune system. Taking Black Elderberry during cold and flu months may reduce your risk of getting sick, and if you do get sick, will reduce the time it takes you to get better.
5. Take a Daily Probiotic
The connection between the gut and immune system is a hot topic and still evolving. What we do know is that a healthy immune system is related to the composition of gut bacteria lining your GI tract. While more studies are needed to determine whether the change in gut bacteria during sickness is for the better, you can easily take steps to make sure the bacteria there now are the good variety by taking a daily probioticand keeping probiotic-rich foods in your diet like yogurt, kefir, tempeh, miso, kimchi and other fermented foods.
6. Get Adequate Vitamin C
An easy way to boost immune systemis by ensuring you’re getting enough vitamin C in your daily diet or by supplement. Vitamin C is an essential vitamin and is linked to a host of health benefits including immune system support. Vitamin Cis involved in many parts of the immune system including white blood cell production which helps protect the body against infection, white blood cell functioning and protection from free radicals and harmful molecules, and finally, vitamin C is also an integral part of the skin’s defense system acting as an antioxidant and improving the strength of the skin. Vitamin C is found in abundance in citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, and spinach.
7. Exercise Often
The benefits of exercise on the body continue to add up. Turns out regular physical activity has a direct relationship to the strength of the body’s immune system response and reduces risk of getting sick in the first place. Plus, regular exercise helps reduce inflammation and improves the body’s defense system. Experts recommend 60 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity most days of the week for best immune system strengthening benefits.
Incorporating quality foods in your daily routine is important for optimal health and energy levels. Plus, nutritious foods are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, protein, carbs, fats and fiber that maximize our immune system’s ability to work efficiently and fight off invaders like bugs and viruses. Incorporate fruits and vegetables like watermelon, spinach, button mushrooms, sweet potato, broccoli, citrus fruits, red bell peppers, and kiwi. You could also cook with garlic, ginger and turmeric, which can help reduce inflammation and help fight infections. Not hungry? Try sipping on pomegranate juice or green tea!
9. Work on Your Mental Health
Carrying the mental load of stress and anxiety on top of everything else can quickly drain you and your body of the strength needed to ward off any illnesses during the flu months. Take steps daily to reduce stress and work on your mental health. This can be as simple as journaling, mediation, taking a relaxing bath, or spending time listening to your favorite music. Find what helps you reduce stress and do that for at least 10 minutes each day.
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