The holidays are filled with wonderful activities in preparation for Thanksgiving and Christmas and are full of excitement but they can also be filled with a lot of colds and the flu if you are not careful to guard yourself against it.
Crowded stores and closed up areas can increase the incidence of passing germs around.
The good news is that there are things you can do to reduce the chances of you getting a cold or the flu even when others around you are getting sick.
There are many different things people do without thinking that can weaken their immune systems such as traveling, stress, and increased fatigue.
Flying is particularly bad for increasing the chances of getting sick due to getting dehydrated and being close to strangers who may be sick. The air inside the planes is circulated which can spread the germs to those who aren’t sick.
We have provided information in this article to help you stay aware of these things and have given you the tips and strategies that work to combat weakened immune systems and the onslaught of germs that are floating around during the colder months.
The information provided below can help combat the causes of colds and flu and can help you avoid getting these illnesses. Even if you do happen to get a little bit of a sore throat scratchy throat, these tips can help you get over the cold or flu much faster than normal.
Boosting Your Immune System
The strength of your immune system determines the ability you have to fight off colds and flu. People that have a weak immune system, regardless of the reason, can be very susceptible to germs that are around. If your immune system isn’t strong enough to combat these germs, you will end up getting sick. If you have a strong immune system you can be one of the ones who are staying healthy while others are getting sick.
There are several things you can do on a daily basis that will boost your immune system and strengthen it so cold and flu germs aren’t able to get a foothold on your system. The day to day lifestyle people lead as well as the foods they eat contributes to the strength of their immune system. There are several key vitamins and nutrients that help reduce the chances of catching a cold or the flu. These nutrients can also help you get better faster if you’ve already gotten sick.
Vitamins That Strengthen Your System
- Vitamin C – This powerful antioxidant is both antibacterial and antiviral. Taking 2 to 3 grams each day is good for preventing colds and maintaining health. Look for Vitamin C varieties that offer bioflavonoids as well. Bioflavonoids are often found in the same foods that Vitamin C is and help to improve absorption and the utilization of the Vitamin C. If you are already sick, increase your vitamin C dosage while you are getting better and then go back to 2-3 grams.
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin. It improves your immune system and can reduce the flu and respiratory infections as well. People who show a deficiency in Vitamin D have also shown greater incidences of getting infections. Taking 1000 to 1500 IU daily can help you get rid of the cold or flu faster and if you are not sick already, it can keep you from contracting colds and the flu.
- Zinc – This is another nutrient that helps your immune system and will help you fight off viruses and bacteria that is around you. Your body needs Zinc to make DNA and protein in the body. Zinc is available in lozenges and supplements and is not hard to find at all.
Foods To Add To Your Diet
- Fruits and Vegetables – You can get lots of Vitamins A, E, Zinc and C from fruits and vegetables. All of these nutrients and vitamins contribute to strengthening your immune system. Eat foods such as winter squash, dark, leafy greens, pumpkin squash, sunflower seeds, turnips, almonds and carrots all have these important immune boosting nutrients in them.
- Tumeric – This spice has gained a lot of recognition as being an excellent health boosting spice. You can expect a reduction in inflammation throughout your whole body including sinus infections by taking it daily. It has other health benefits as well so immune boosting is just one of many benefits that you will notice when you add this to your daily intake.
- Garlic – Garlic is a natural antibiotic that is antiviral as well as antibacterial. The stimulant germanium is present in garlic. Taking this nutrient will stimulate the immune system to fight off germs and problems. Garlic pills are okay if that is all you can get a hold of but fresh, raw garlic is the best. Add it to your different dishes at the end of the cooking process to enhance and increase the benefits that Garlic provides. Not only will you benefit healthwise, but your food will be delicious too.
- Ginger – Ginger gives off a warming feeling that you will be able to feel all through your system. This is another antimicrobial and antibacterial nutrient. It is great for reducing the chances of getting bacterial or viral infections.
Stay away from foods and drinks that have a lot of sugar in them. Sugar slows your entire immune system down because it slows the work of the white blood cells which is to fight off infections and other problems. In small amounts you can use regular sugar but it is recommended that you use unpasteurized honey instead which has helpful bacteria.
It is also recommended to avoid foods that increase mucous such as dairy, fried foods, processed sugar and cold foods. Drinking and eating warm foods will help reduce the amount of mucous and will warm you from the inside out which is always soothing.
Don’t forget the Probiotics – Probiotics are also called microflora. These are friendly bacteria that helps some of the immune system cells. There have been some studies that show as much as 34% less severity with cold and flu symptoms among those who regularly took a probiotic. The duration of the cold or flu if they did get it was also recorded to be shorter among the probiotic taking grouping.
Lifestyle Habits To Adopt
There are a few key things you can do to improve immunity. We have listed these below so you can look at your own circumstances regarding these topics and see what kind of changes need to be made.
- Getting the right kind of sleep – There are a lot of health benefits associated with getting the right amount and the right quality of sleep. Having plenty of rest can even prevent you from getting colds and the flu. In addition, if you do happen to get a cold or the flu, getting plenty of rest will help you get better faster. The reason this works is due to the chemicals that regulate the immune system that are released when you are getting plenty of rest. These are called cytokines. Sleep is the body’s chance to repair itself so making sure that you get sleep every night is very important. You want to try and get as close to 8 hours a night as possible. Making sure that you have a comfortable mattress and the right kind of sheets is crucial to helping you get the right kind of sleep.
- Avoiding Stress – Stress has a very negative effect on the immune system. Being stressed can cause the immune system to be shut down completely leaving you vulnerable to colds, flu and even more serious illnesses. Stress can be managed but letting it get the best of you only robs you of health, energy and quality of life. Arm yourself with some coping skills to help you manage any stress you may be experiencing such as
- Keeping The Body Warm – Eating and drinking warm things like soups, hot tea and coffee helps preserve your energy so you can use it to fight off infections and stay healthy. When you are using your energy just to keep warm, this leaves you open to potential problems.
Tips for Reducing Your Chances of Getting Colds and The Flu
- Drink lots of water – People may get tired of hearing this but it is an important element in helping the system stay hydrated. If you travel a lot via airplane, it becomes even more important to stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle with you at all times that you have filled with water and drink often. The bigger the change in altitude and the drier the air the more dehydrated you can become. Drink, drink, drink!
- Consider the flu vaccine – Some people don’t believe in getting the vaccine but most doctors’ offices and many of the pharmacies around offer flu shots so the opportunity is there to get it if you want it. Getting the shot can help you reduce your chances of getting the flu but this is a personal preference.
- The benefit of using antibacterial wipes – Using a good antibacterial wipe to clean surfaces before you touch them will get rid of the majority of germs that may be residing on them from others that have touched the surfaces before you. These surfaces include shopping cart handles, doorknobs, counter tops and if you’re staying in a hotel, pretty much every hotel surface. Even in your home, using these wipes can get rid of germs on refrigerator and stove handles, kitchen and bathroom faucets, door knobs, and other surfaces as well. If you already have a cold, wiping the surfaces down after you touch them can reduce the chances of someone else catching your cold.
- Become a serial hand washer – One of the most important things you can do to combat colds and the flu is to wash your hands. But you have to wash them properly for the full benefits and protection to work. Rinsing your hands briefly in cold water is not washing your hands. Make sure to use a good hand soap and soap you hands, wrists and midway up to your elbow then rinse thoroughly. If you wash your hands a lot, be sure to get a good hand lotion that will combat your hands drying out.
- Protecting nasal passages from dryness – Studies have shown that keeping your nasal passages hydrated can boost your system’s method of getting rid of germs. Having nasal mists and carrying saline nasal sprays can provide you with a means of keeping your nasal passages from getting dried out. Dry nasal passages can be very uncomfortable and can result in unexpected nose bleeds.
- Keep a mini first aid kit in your purse – This may sound paranoid, but having a small first aid kit can be really beneficial for unexpected situations that can arise. You can carry the kit in a simple Ziploc bag or a makeup case. Include the following in your mini first aid kit:
- Hand sanitizer
- Small pack of disinfectant wipes
- Allergy pills
- Acetaminophen and ibuprofen (adult and childrens)
- Nasal spray
- Anti-diarrhea pills
- Antacid tablets
- Stomach medicine
- Antibiotic cream
- EpiPen (if you or your children have life threatening allergies to foods or bee stings)
- The right way to cough or sneeze – You should never cough or sneeze into your hand. That is a super easy way to pass germs around quickly. The best way to cough or sneeze is into a tissue or two. Once you are done, throw the tissue away and immediately wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.
- Don’t stay immobile for too long – If you are traveling a long distance or you work in an office where you can be at a desk for long periods of time, you want to make sure that you get up and move around once an hour to keep circulation going. You can also take a walk or do some form of light exercise during your lunch break as well. It will help you feel better and facilitate improved health as well.