Autumn is officially here. The leaves on the trees are changing color, school is in full swing, and there’s already a chill in the air. Unfortunately, this also means cold season is upon us. The decreased temperatures lead to more time indoors with other people, which mean germs are more easily spread. Viruses also thrive in cold, dry weather, making it even easier for you to get sick.
So how do you protect yourself from catching a cold when people all around you are going down for the count? Here are ten ways to help ward off germs, courtesy of our on-site nurse, Brenda!
1. Wash Your Hands. First and foremost, make sure you are washing your hands. Frequently. Whenever possible, grab some hand sanitizer too. This will prevent not only the spread of germs to other people, but the contamination from your hands to your face. Which leads us to our next point…
2. Quit Touching Your Face. It often becomes habitual to touch your lips or rub your eyes throughout the day. Stop. Viruses can enter your body through your eyes, nose and mouth, and touching your face delivers germs straight into your system.
3. Reach for the Yogurt. You can give your immune system a boost simply by eating a small container of yogurt. The probiotics will help strengthen your system and make it harder for germs to take you down. Try adding yogurt to smoothies, use in place of sour cream, or stir into overnight oats for your quick and easy dose. For an extra punch, add a little honey to your yogurt – it’ll help loosen congestion, supply antioxidants, and prevent dehydration.
4. Crack a Window. Air out your office, your living room, and your car by opening a window when you can. It’ll help keep airborne viral particles on the move, making it harder for you pick them up. You’ll also freshen up the air in the room, letting out trapped germs and viruses.
5. Pick Up Some Fungi. It isn’t just a myth from Super Mario: the immune-boosting powers of mushrooms are real. The antibacterial and antifungal effects of mushrooms have been proven to both increase your T cell count and decrease inflammation. Chow down on shiitake mushrooms for your strongest attack against pathogens.
6. Down Some Water. Mom always said that fluids are your friend when you’re feeling sick, and she’s absolutely right! Aim for about two liters of water per day to help flush your body of excess mucus when you start to feel a cold coming on.
7. Eat Your Vitamins. Since no one is entirely sure what exactly is in those supplement bottles, we recommend taking your vitamins straight from the source: your food. Aim for about 1000 milligrams of Vitamin C a day by eating lots of bell peppers, broccoli, kale and oranges. Zinc is also essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, so stock up on beef, cashews, spinach and pumpkin seeds. Finally, don’t forget about Vitamin E, which protects against viral infections. Tofu, avocados and fish are a great source of this often forgotten vitamin!
8. Keep Away from Sneezers. This one should be obvious: stay out of the line of fire when people around you are sneezing. But don’t underestimate the distance you should keep. Particles from a sneeze can travel up to 20 feet!
9. Get Your Beauty Rest. Putting in your time under covers will help strengthen your immune system, keeping those germs at bay. While sleep is the best way to stay healthy, it’s also important to make time for relaxation during the daytime. When you meditate, read, do yoga or engage in other relaxing activities, your interleukins (molecules that respond to attacks from viruses) increase in your bloodstream, priming your body to fight colds and the flu.
10. Reach for a Neti Pot. Flush your nose free of mucus and debris by cleansing with a Neti Pot. Begin by boiling salted water, and let cool to room temperature before flushing your nasal cavity. Or you can use an OTC saline solution, if you prefer. This will help clear out any viral particles you may have breathed in during the day!
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