10 tips for staying healthy during cold & flu season

  1. Avoid sugar – sugar has been shown to decrease immune function almost immediately.

  2. Get adequate rest – 8-9 hours sleep per night and rest if you feel tired. Sleep is recovery time for the body’s functions, including the immune system. Sleep in a completely dark room, do not eat just before sleeping.

  3. Wash hands thoroughly and frequently - you should use warm water and soap and rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds to get rid of germs and bacteria. Avoid shaking hands with those already sick. Be especially thorough before eating, in public places, after dealing with money and after riding on public transit.

  4. Eat healthy, well balanced meals - include whole grains, plenty of fruits & vegetables and adequate protein. Don’t eat on the run. Take time to enjoy your meals and include plenty of garlic and onions in diet; add shitake mushrooms to soups during the winter; switch from coffee to green tea; add thyme, oregano, rosemary and herbs to your soups & stews. Close to 70% of our immune system actually resides in our gut! Eat a rainbow of vegetables especially leafy greens, & orange vegetables that are high in beta carotene.

  5. Decrease stress levels – stress also depresses immune function. It has been shown that about 90% of illness and disease is stress related. Acupuncture, massage or other body work is great for decreasing stress levels.

  6. Drink plenty of water - at least one 8-oz glass of water for every 20 pounds body weight. Water is important for healthy digestion and elimination. All of our cells are constantly bathed in water. When they become dehydrated they can't function properly.

  7. Cultivate a positive outlook - Feeling negative will decrease your immune function, while laughter and feeling positive enhances it.

  8. Exercise regularly – walk, practice yoga, stretch, work out at a gym to help maintain a healthy body, reduce stress and prevent illness. Energetic exercise gets blood flowing to your organs, joints, muscles, and bones. This is important because blood brings nutrients, like oxygen, to the cells and it removes cellular waste products.

  9. Bundle up and spend a few minutes outdoors regularly. Ensure your back and neck are covered properly. When sunlight touches our skin, even when diffused through the clouds, it enables our bodies to make vitamin D which is important for immune function.

  10. Deep breathing - When you breathe deeply it gives your body a break from "fight or flight" mode and tells your nervous system to go into rest and replenish mode.

Already have a cold? See 10 Tips to Follow During a Cold or Flu »

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