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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Staying Healthy This Winter

A runny nose, coughing, an aching body, and choking phlegm are just a few of the unattractive and uncomfortable symptoms related to the common cold and flu. During the chilly winter months, we find ourselves spending the majority of our time indoors, making it quite easy to send and receive those unwanted cold and flu cooties. Both the common cold and the flu are extremely contagious. Many of these germs are spread by hand-to-hand contact and are also airborne. It seems as though we are destined for some sort of sniffle each year. However, we have control to a certain extent! Give it your best shot this winter and beyond to avoid those pesky cold and flu critter invasions. Here are the top 10 tips for staying healthy during cold and flu season:
  1. Sleep eight hours a night. Yes, lack of sleep can affect the immune system. While we sleep, our immune system releases proteins called cytokines. Cytokines are necessary for fighting infection.
  2. Get stress levels under control. Stress can decrease immune system function. Research has found that cortisol and catecholamines, hormones that are released during times of stress, can turn down the effects of the immune system. The following link provides more info on the effects of stress: http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2007/Januar ... res_01.htm.
  3. Yoga, deep breathing, meditation, exercise, and getting yourself into the present moment are all ways to cope with stress.
  4. Get outdoors every day. Spending too much time indoors, especially around people, can increase your chances of contracting those cold and flu cooties! In addition, getting sunlight for 15 minutes every day can improve your mood and Vitamin D levels.
  5. Exercise! Indoors or outdoors, exercise has repeatedly been shown to strengthen not only our bodies but also our immune systems. For detailed information regarding exercise and immunity, check out this link: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders ... ystem.aspx.
  6. To review guidelines on physical activity, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website: http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/eve ... index.html.
  7. Wash your hands!
  8. Consume a balanced and nutritionally dense diet. Proper nutrition goes a long way! There is no better way to receive vitamins and minerals than through fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. For the dairy lovers and meat eaters out there, choose the leanest options available. Vitamins and minerals provide our cells with the building blocks it needs to fight off disease! Excess sugar and fat can create a systemic inflammatory response, making it more difficult for our bodies to fight off disease and illness.
  9. Hydrate! Water can flush toxins from the body and carry much-needed nutrients to our body’s cells and tissues. The dry winter months can cause insensible hydration losses that we are typically not aware of. In addition, mild dehydration can make you feel drained and more susceptible to the dreaded "C": constipation.
  10. Rinse the nasal passages! A practice that many refer to as nasal flushing is a safe and effective way to clean out the nasal passages. During cold-weather months, the respiratory tract creates more mucus in an attempt to warm and moisten our airways. When that mucus spends too much time inside the body, germs can linger and proliferate. By flushing the mucus from your nose, you are removing some of those unwanted infestations. For more information, check out http://www.neilmed.com/usa/index.php.
  11. Avoid the inevitable. It may be best to avoid situations where you know you will encounter individuals with the cold or flu. In many instances, this is not possible, or perhaps you are unaware of someone's pending illness. Nonetheless, take precautions by strengthening your own immune system and washing your hands postvisit. Also, remember to avoid putting your hands near your face until a thorough washing occurs.
  12. Keep your living spaces clean and tidy. Keyboards, doorknobs, countertops, and fruits and vegetables can all be hosts and carriers of bacteria and viruses. Disinfect often!
For more tips regarding nutritional supplements and vitamins to complement the tips mentioned above, consult your health care provider.

And remember, an apple a day just may keep the doctor away! Best to you and your family for a safe and healthy holiday!



Post submitted by Marisa from The Mommies Network's Content Team

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