Cold and flu season is here. Here are 5 tips to help you stay healthy this season.
Tip One: Sunshine and Vitamin D supplementation
Studies have shown that people with lower levels of vitamin D are much more likely to catch a cold or flu. Canadians don’t get enough sunlight between November and April. Try to get 20 minutes of sunlight between May and October to increase your vitamin D stores and speak with your doctor about Vitamin D supplementation over the winter months.
Tip Two: Probiotics (aka good bacteria)
Probiotics improve the intestinal flora balance, inhibit harmful bacteria, promote good digestion, boost immune function, and increase resistance to infection. Most people don’t realize that 80% of the immune system is located in the gut. One of the most important things you can do to boost your immune system is incorporate plenty of fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and kefir that are high in probiotics into your diet. If you have recently taken an antibiotic or you are experiencing digestive symptoms, then you might want to speak with a Naturopathic Doctor about supplementing with a probiotic to replenish your gut flora.
Tip Three: Sleep and rest
Ever notice how people tend to get sick when they are stressed out? Chronic stress, fatigue and sleep deprivation all depress the immune system and increase susceptibility to colds and flus. Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep to allow the body to repair and heal. It is important to find outlets for stress such as journaling, reading, mediation, and yoga. Physical activity is one of the best methods for reducing stress and boosting the immune system. Keep in mind that intense exercise is counter-productive when you are feeling sick and actually suppresses the immune system.
Tip Four: Stay Hydrated
Drink water to stay hydrated and prevent viruses from adhering to mucous membranes in your nose and throat. A good goal is to drink 8 glasses of water per day and remember that caffeine is a diuretic so drink an extra glass of water for every cup of coffee you consume. Choose room temperature or warm water, as cold water can cool the body down too much.
Tip Five: Nutrient rich diet
Food is not just calories. What is at the end of your fork plays in important role in in your immune system. Try to eat lots of spices and vegetables. Warming spices such as garlic, ginger, cayenne, sage, oregano, cloves, and thyme have antimicrobial properties that help fight off infection. Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals and help the body heal, grow, and repair. Try to eat whole foods and avoid packaged fried food. Dairy is mucous forming; therefore, it is best to avoid when you are feeling congested. Refined sugar and caffeine increase stress and depress immune function. So put away that Halloween candy and for a vitamin C rich orange instead.
And lastly, listen to your body and stay home if you are sick! I know you are a hard working young professional, but don’t bring your cough to work. Rest up and nourish yourself. You’ll be more productive when you get back to work.