It’s winter, and it seems like every other person is getting sick! How can you boost your immunity to keep you from catching the bug going around? Besides washing your hands frequently, follow these tips to help you stay healthy this season.
1. Get Your Vitamins
There’s limited evidence that Vitamin C may help prevent the common cold, but increasing your Vitamin C intake with citrus fruits and leafy green vegetables won’t hurt you at all!
2. Avoid Stress
Stress can weaken your immune system, and the holidays and winter activities can be a source of stress. Follow our tips for Dealing with Holiday Stress and exercise regularly, get outside, meditate, and get plenty of sleep.
3. Avoid Antibiotic Overuse
Many upper respiratory problems, such as the common cold, are caused by viruses and do not need antibiotics. If you are seeing a health care provider for cough, cold, or congestion during the winter months, ask if you need an antibiotic to treat what you have or if the issue will run its course with or without the antibiotic. Inappropriately using antibiotics can weaken your immune system and make other infections harder to fight when you need your immune system at its peak.
4. Drink Plenty of Water
The majority of your body is made up of water, and dehydration can make it harder for your body to cope when it gets stressed or you get sick.
5. Use Probiotics
Did you know we actually have bacteria living in specific sites of our body? It may sound odd or gross, but our gut naturally has bacteria growing and living in it. The native bacteria actually can help ward off the infectious bacteria that may invade our body. To help support the good bacteria, or “normal flora,” take a good probiotic every day. Probiotics are available in supplement form wherever you buy your vitamins. Some foods, including fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, or yogurt, naturally have probiotics.
6. Try Herbs and Spices that Boost Your Health
Try using herbs and spices that can help give your health a boost when you cook. There is some evidence that the following herbs and spices can help by containing antioxidants that help your immune system. Plus, they’re delicious! The ones to try are garlic, ginger, black peppercorn, cayenne pepper, allspice, curry, and turmeric. Avoiding processed foods with lots of salt can also help your overall health – use whole foods such as lean proteins, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
7. Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands is the number one way to prevent infection. Wash your hands before preparing food, eating food, after using the bathroom, and any time you may have come into contact with someone or something that has bacteria and viruses on it (such as when out shopping). Protect yourself and others around you by washing your hands.
Thanks to Taylor McKeowen, DNP, APRN, FNP-C for writing the first draft of this blog.