It’s hard to believe that this year’s flu season is already here. With the coronavirus continuing to spread across the country at a concerning pace, a lot of focus has been placed on this year’s influenza.
The winter season can amplify the spread of flu and colds due to a handful of factors. The colder, less pleasant weather causes people to spend more time indoors where the virus lives longer. Additionally, wearing bulkier clothing coupled with the shorter days reduces sunlight exposure. This lack of sunlight makes us more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency which is an important immune-boosting agent. The combination of these puts you more at risk of falling ill.
The most important thing you can do for your health is to go get your flu shot. The CDC recommends that everyone who can receive the vaccine should, so check with your doctor or local pharmacy to set up an appointment as soon as you can. It’s the easiest way to prevent yourself and others from catching the flu, and the earlier you take these measures, the more effective the vaccine will be.
After you’ve received your flu shot, utilize these five tips so that you can give your immune system a boost this winter.
Practice Good Hygiene
Possibly the easiest way to prevent the spread of germs to yourself and others is by washing your hands correctly and often. Aim to scrub them for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water which is the most effective way of ridding germs. For those moments where you don’t have access to a sink, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is perfectly acceptable. However, hand-washing is more effective than hand sanitizer at killing off certain germs. Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your car or on your person so that you can use it whenever you are running errands and are unable to find a sink. Make it a habit to clean your hands often so that it becomes second nature during peak cold and flu season.
Fuel Your Immune System With the Correct Nutrients
Vitamin D and C provide your immune system the boost it needs to fight off many different illnesses and diseases. Neither vitamins are produced by the body, so it is vital to find ways to receive the needed amount. In order to be sure that you are getting enough of each, include foods that contain one or both of them in your daily diet. Vitamin C is found in many common foods such as citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, spinach, sweet peppers, asparagus, etc. Because so many foods have vitamin C in them, it can be easy and fun to make recipes that include it. Vitamin D is harder to find as it is mostly found in fish, meat, eggs, and in fortified milk and other dairy products. You might consider taking a supplement for the winter; however, check with your doctor before doing so.
Another way to give your body a nutrient-boost is by increasing alkaline intake. An alkaline diet not only fights against illnesses like heartburn and acid reflux by normalizing PH levels but also has a major impact on the immune system. Alkaline-rich foods strengthen the immune system by providing your body with important antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, including vitamin D and C. You can increase your alkaline intake by eating certain foods or drinking alkaline-infused water. Because the alkaline diet reduces the number of processed foods you eat, you’ll be consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables. They will not only taste delicious but also will help you feel healthier!
Practice Healthy Habits
Exercise and sleep are both known to positively impact your overall well-being. Physical activity helps increase blood and oxygen flow which can aid your body’s ability to fight off infections. Be sure to get the recommended amount of sleep each night: about 7 or 8 hours. When your body doesn’t get the rest it needs, it can lead to inflammation, increasing the likelihood of falling ill. Find ways to schedule your day so that you are able to incorporate healthy amounts of sleep and exercise. Have a strict bedtime in your house – one that ensures everyone is getting their z’s. For physical activity, create attainable fitness goals, such as walking for 15 minutes every morning or doing a TV workout at night. Once you are in the habit of doing so, you’ll realize how easy it is to find ways to stay active. With enough sleep and exercise, you’ll decrease the likelihood of catching a cold, feel less stressed, and boost your wellness.
Disinfect Your Surroundings
Regular cleaning of your home can help to keep harmful germs at bay. Germs can survive on objects for many hours, so it is important to clean high traffic rooms in your home. Make use of disinfectant wipes at the store to wipe down any shopping carts you might use. Avoid touching door handles if you cannot clean them. Also, be sure to clean commonly used objects around the house, such as your laptop, your phone, faucets, countertops, and handles.
Stock Up On Cold and Flu Supplies
Despite our best efforts, you or a family member will likely get sick at some point this winter.
With this in mind, when the unpleasant symptoms start to set in, it is best to have various cold and flu supplies on hand. Stock up on an assortment of medicines ahead of time, or opt to have these cold flu medicines delivered, to avoid late-night trips to the pharmacy when you need them. Consider creating your own cold and flu emergency kit so that you have the necessities on-hand.
Here are a few helpful supplies to have in your home: over-the-counter medicines, a thermometer, and tissues. Over-the-counter medicines can include pain relievers, fever reducers, cough drops, and decongestants. Having these items on hand can help to reduce symptoms and lead you down the road to recovery. A thermometer is important, especially during flu season to help monitor your temperature, as well as your symptoms. It should also come as no surprise that a cold or flu and a runny nose go hand-in-hand, making tissues a necessity in your emergency kit.
While your health and wellness should always be a priority, it is important that you take additional measures during the flu and cold season to keep yourself and those around you feeling your best. By finding ways to protect yourself and boost your immune system, you will be sure to have a happy and healthy winter season.