Eight Tips for Fighting Winter Illness
By Brian Acton
During the winter months, you’re much more vulnerable to catching a cold or the flu. There are a few reasons people are more vulnerable to these illnesses when it’s cold out; possible causes include more time spent indoors in close proximity others and a seasonally weakened immune system. But no matter the cause, there are things you can do to naturally boost your immune system or avoid viruses.
Here are eight tips for fighting winter illness.
- Get Your Flu Vaccine
Ideally, you should get your flu vaccine by the end of October, before the flu really starts to spread. But if you haven’t been vaccinated this season, you can still benefit from a vaccine in January or later. It may take up to two weeks for antibodies to develop as a response, so get your flu shot as soon as you can.
- Get Your Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps regulate your blood pressure, reduces the risk of diabetes and arthritis, and bolsters your immune system. But during the colder months, people tend to stay inside, and lose out on the primary supplier of Vitamin D - directly exposing the skin to sunlight. A Vitamin D deficiency may develop, but you can keep your levels up by taking an over the counter Vitamin D supplement.
- Get Your Rest
Not getting enough sleep is linked to a long list of physical and mental issues, including a weakened immune system. Even mild sleep deprivation leaves you more vulnerable to viruses and respiratory illnesses. Getting at least seven hours of sleep will leave you more prepared to resist illness.
- Eat a Balanced Diet
A balanced diet that includes protein, vegetables, fruits, and omega-3 fatty acids can help keep your immune system running smoothly. A diet that’s with too many much sugar, fat, or empty calories can leave your immune system depleted. Make sure you’re eating a balanced diet.
Regular exercise can help you feel great and increase your immunity to certain illnesses. Of course, exercise also bestows a huge variety of other physical and psychological benefits.
A moderate, consistent exercise routine is the best bet for most people. Avoid overdoing it, as you could injure yourself or even increase your risk of illness.
- Wash Your Hands
One of the most common vehicles for spreading germs are everyday objects in common spaces – doorknobs, computer keyboards, elevator buttons, and more. If you touch something that’s covered in germs, and then touch your mouth or nose, you can get infected. The best way to avoid germs is to wash your hands regular and thoroughly, with soap, for at least 20 seconds at a time.
- Reduce Stress
Chronic stress can take a psychological and physical toll, and even suppress the cells you use to fight off infection. If you live under constant stress, you’re putting your health at risk. Try to take steps to remove some stress from your life.
- Stop Smoking and Drinking
There is evidence that smoking and drinking weakens your immune system, making you more likely to get sick. If you drink or smoke, you should try to give up these habits – at least for the winter months. Of course, it’s advisable to give up smoking altogether and only drink in moderation.