Tips for Surviving Cold & Flu Season Unscathed
First Line of Attack is- Prevention
The truth is that there really aren't any known cures for cold or flu, just ways to remedy symptoms. So, your best line of offense is defense- PREVENTION.
It is predicted that this year will be a tough year for cold and flu, so precautions are imperative. Now I know that many people are strong supporters of flu shots, and if you are, and your doctor suggests that you and your family gets them, then you should make the decision that is best for your family. I will say that personally, I have never gotten a flu shot, nor do I force it on my kids. I honestly can't remember the last time I, or my family has had the flu- yes I am knocking on wood now as I type. We focus predominantly on staying healthy all the time and taking precautions listed below.
Recipe for surviving cold & flu season unscathed:
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, rich is fruits and vegetables- especially those high in phytochemicals, which are often found in brightly colored fruits and vegetable such as blueberries. These phytochemical (lycopene is an example) improve the immune system.
- Get enough sleep. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, average adults require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep, while school age kids require 10 hours. I know that getting enough sleep is challenging, but sleep is what allows your body to recover and stay strong to fight the onslaught of invading germs, bacteria or viruses.
- Cough into (and hope others do too) a clean tissue or into the crook of your elbow instead of your bare hands. When you, or someone coughs into your hands, you are spreading those germs to anyone or anything that you touch. Toss out those old cloth hankies, they are germ spreaders...
- Forget that anti-bacterial spray or gel that has gotten so popular- WASH your hands regularly with soap and hot water. Not only can viruses live outside of the body for several hours, but anti-bacterial gel doesn't kill viruses... it is meant for bacteria, and in fact doesn't do a great job with them either. According to both the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and the Mayo Clinic, more than half of the population doesn't wash their hands regularly and of those who do, half of them don't do it properly... See below for simple steps to wash your hands properly, and It doesn't hurt to retrain the family.
- Keep your hands away from your face. Teach your kids that viruses spread to/from mouth, nose and eyes (and pink eye isn't fun either).
- Stress causes or increases susceptibility to 95% of all ailments. Find ways to manage stress, such as getting outside for a walk in the woods (See post from Oct 3).
- Drink lots of water and green tea in combination. You will stay hydrated (which is extremely important), flush your system of toxins, and a cup of warm tea in your hands can have a mood lifting effect. Green tea is especially good since it is loaded with antioxidants that help your immune system, and it is a natural anti-bacterial that can lower your risk of infection.
- If you feel something coming on, take a hot bath, a sauna or a steamy shower to prevent a cold or the flu. Do not do this if you already have a fever however, as this can cause your body temperature to rise too high.
- Exercise regularly. A fit body, with oxygen-rich blood is much stronger in the battle against cold and flu. Also, exercise helps flush nasty toxins from your body.
- Laugh every day. Laughter has amazing powers to relax your entire body, boost your immune system, triggers a release of endorphins and protects your heart by increasing blood flow. Laughter truly is the best medicine.
Washing Your Hands Effectively
Follow these simple steps:
- Wet your hands with running water — either warm or hot.
- Apply liquid or powder soap- bar soap can spread germs.
- Lather well.
- Rub your hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds...
- Rinse well with warm or hot water.
- Dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel or air dryer.
- If possible, use a towel or your elbow to turn off the faucet.