When the weather turns colder, colds and flu take center stage. Whether or not you have a flu shot, you can take steps to lower the risk of becoming ill. Be aware of the symptoms you exhibit when you get sick and follow the strategies below to increase immunity, battle colds and the flu, and stay healthy all winter long!
Step 1: When added to a healthy diet, certain foods can increase our ability to fight colds and flu. Yogurt containing a combination of the probiotics Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, and Bifidus is the most effective. Taking a garlic capsule once a day can reduce cold risk by two-thirds because garlic contains the bacteria fighter allicin and other compounds that fight infection. Garlic cloves can be even more effective so add two or three when cooking food.
Fatty fish like herring, mackerel, and salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids that reduce phagocyte activity. These cells consume bacteria, helping to fight the flu. Fatty fish also contains selenium, which aids in the production of virus-clearing proteins within white blood cells. Mushrooms have more than 300 compounds that boost immunity and reishi, maitake, and shiitake are the most effective.
Step 2: What we drink can also help boost our immune system. Drinking five cups of black or green tea daily for two weeks can turn our immunity T cells into cells that produce ten times more cold-battling proteins. If five is too many, drink as many as possible each day.
Step 3: Germs can exist on many surfaces for as long as three days. Washing hands is the best preventative measure. Sanitizing or disinfecting hand wipes are also effective when soap and water are not available.
Step 4: Do not share tubes of toothpaste with other people because the toothbrush may touch the tube opening and transmit germs.
Step 5: During flu season, use disposable paper towels in the kitchen and bathroom. Use a paper towel at the office when turning off bathroom faucets, exiting restrooms, and opening the office microwave and refrigerator. Press elevator buttons with the elbow, knuckle, or keys. At the ATM, press buttons with the debit card.
Step 6: Remain five feet away from someone who is coughing or sneezing. Germs will fall due to gravity, dropping before they reach you.
Step 7: At the office, wipe the desktop, computer keyboard, and phone with disinfecting wipes each day because these harbor more germs than an average toilet seat. Wipe exercise mats and free weights before using them at the gym. When staying in a hotel, wipe door handles, light switches, alarm clock, telephone, and TV remote control.
Step 8: Exercise for 20 to 30 minutes each day to increase immune response and low risk for an upper respiratory infection.
Step 9: Get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Being sleep-deprived for just one night can depress the immune system.