Most people experience colds or the flu from time to time, it’s inevitable. So what are the top tips to keeping your immune system at the ready all year round? To be honest, most of these “tips” for good health aren’t tips at all, but common sense. For example, hand washing. We all wash our hands, but do we wash for 20 seconds, and scrub every part of the hand? Apart from hand-washing, there are a whole host of other ideas and solutions to help you avoid that runny nose or sore throat, even in the thick of cold & flu season. Here are our top tips to help you stay healthy and avoid getting sick.
Our Top Stay Healthy Tips
Eat your greens: A healthy diet includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, protein, whole grains, and dairy. It may take some adjustment to move to healthy eating, so start small, and focus on one aspect to introduce yourself to some healthier options. For example, start by adding more greens to your diet. Green, leafy vegetables are rich in vitamins that help you maintain a balanced diet – and support a healthy immune system. One study showed that eating cruciferous vegetables sends a chemical signal to the body that boosts specific cell-surface proteins necessary for efficient immune-system function1. An easy way to get some greens into your life is with a powdered green drink mix. We recommend looking for one that contains barley grass, wheatgrass, spirulina, kelp, and chlorella, for the most beneficial phytonutrients per ounce. Be sure to avoid drink mixes that have added sugar.
Skip the alcohol: Research shows that drinking alcohol can damage the body’s dendritic cells, a vital component of the immune system. An increase in alcohol consumption over time can increase a person’s exposure to bacterial and viral infections.2 Especially during cold and flu season or stressful times, skip the alcohol and try a fun ‘mocktail’ instead.
Keep moving: Working out regularly enhances immune function, which can help the body fight off any cold or flu germs.3 You should aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity.
Get enough sleep: Clocking in about 8 hours of sleep every night is important, but it is even more important when you are feeling under the weather. When you’re tired, your body isn’t fighting as hard. So if you feel like you may be coming down with something, it’s imperative you get at least 8, or even 10 hours of sleep, if possible.
Eat more colorful meals: Cooking with all colors of the rainbow will help you get a wide range of vitamins in your diet. Red fruits and veggies, like tomatoes, red peppers, and raspberries, contain certain phytochemicals like lycopene and anthocyanins, which help protect against certain diseases, and can lower the risk of diabetes. Orange and yellow foods like carrots, mangos and sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. This essential vitamin supports healthy immunity, eye health, and strong bones. Green fruits and veggies like broccoli, kiwi and zucchini are chock full of chlorophyll, an antioxidant with a host of health benefits, like clearing toxins from the body, supporting digestion and absorption of nutrients, and boosting immunity. And blue and purple foods like blackberries, eggplant, and grapes contain super-charged antioxidants that can promote brain function and cellular strength.4
Hang out with friends: People who have strong social relationships are less likely to die prematurely than people who are isolated. Researchers think that friendships and health are linked through the body’s processing of stress. Being socially engaged leads to more positive emotions, which in turn may actually boost your body’s immune system and reduce the physical signs of stress.5
Avoid cigarette smoke: Smoking is a known risk factor for several diseases including asthma and respiratory infections, to name a few. But breathing in secondhand smoke can also increase a person’s risk for developing these conditions. People who smoke or regularly inhale cigarette smoke are also more likely to experience more severe symptoms when they get colds or the flu. Cigarette smoke can affect the immune system and reduce a person’s ability to fight off infections.6
It can be tough to stay healthy if people around you are or may be sick. Be sure to keep your distance. And protect yourself by giving these simple strategies a try. Stay healthy!