Cold and Flu Season
Flu season is among us, and according to the rest of this years weather forecast, we are in for a cold one. Of course, along with bad weather comes those pesky colds and flu, and to date, this world has yet to find a cure for either. There are some prevention methods you can incorporate into your life that just might get you past this cold and fluseason without a scrape…or more accurately, a sniffle or a cough. Yes, these tactics can significantly reduce the risk of getting these illnesses during the cold months, and these preventative steps can save you a lot of time in bed.
Getting serious about preventing the common cold and influenza can not only help you avoid ailments, but it can also make your life a whole lot healthier in the process, and provide you with terrific lifestyle changes in general, whether youre sick or well. Many people around this time will race to the doctor for a flu shot, and true, this is certainly a method that can be fairly effective. But if you want to avoid the needle, there are equally effective and natural ways to employ in your life that will help you avoid the colds and influenza. Check out these tips for reducing your risk of contracting colds and flu, and stay well this cold and flu season:
First and Foremost, Quit the Bad Habits
Drinking alcohol in excess can suppress the immune system in several ways. Heavy drinkers are more prone to initial infections as well as secondary complications. Alcohol also dehydrates the body, and can cause you to lose more fluids from your system than you take in. Fluids are fantastic for preventing colds and influenza, and without fluids, you are more prone to contracting these illness, as well as others. Significantly reducing your alcohol consumption will help you avoid these ailments.
If youre addicted to the cigarette, its time to take charge and quit. Smoking is worse that heavy drinking, and according to statistics, heavy smokers get more severe colds and more frequent ones than non-smokers. Even exposing yourself to secondhand smoke can take a toll on the immune system because smoke dries out your nasal passages and paralyzes cilia, (delicate hairs that line the mucous membranes in your nose and lungs.)
Cilia sweeps cold and flu viruses out of the nasal passages, and without them, even one cigarette can paralyze cilia for as long as an hour. Thats just enough time to contract a nasty cold or flu. Heavy smoking can also dry out your adrenal glands, so its best to cut back or quit altogether. Besides saving your lungs and boosting your immune system, youll enjoy a much healthier life, free from worse conditions like stroke, lung cancer and emphysema.
Diet and Exercise
Eating nutritious, wholesome foods is top-notch insurance for reducing the risk of flu and colds. In fact, a good diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, can sometimes prevent them altogether. Phytochemicals in vegetables and some fruits are those natural chemicals that give you the vitamins in food a supercharged boost. Eating dark green, red, and yellow vegetables and fruits have been proven to nourish the body significantly, which supports your immune system and fights off the common cold and influenza. Additionally, foods rich in antioxidants like sweet potatoes and kiwi, can fight free-radicals, which also contribute to disease and illness.
Exercise is another proactive way to battle the common cold. In fact, consistent exercise is the king of killing viruses. Specifically, aerobic exercise speeds up the heart to pump larger quantities of blood, which in turn, facilitates you breathing faster to help transfer oxygen from your lungs to your blood. Exercise also makes you sweat, and sweating helps increase the body’s natural virus-killing cells and eliminates viral toxins. Starting and maintaining a regular exercise program is perhaps the number one, natural cold remedy around.
Worrying about getting sick can actually manifest illnesses. Conversely, relaxing about ailments can actually boost your immune system. Stress attacks your immune system and causes it to weaken, making you more susceptible to colds and the flu. If you can teach yourself to relax and reduce your stress levels, there is evidence that suggests that relaxation boosts interleukins into your bloodstream, leaders in the immune system response against flu and cold viruses.
You can train yourself to relax through various relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation.Other methods include a hot bath or shower, a massage or acupuncture. Those who can relax will change their blood chemicals, and reduce the risk of catching a cold or flu bug. Try some of these relaxation methods. You will be surprised at the difference they make, including lowering the risk heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and hypertension.
Clean Those Grubby Paws of Yours
Flu and other cold-like conditions are usually delivered and spread through human contact. When someone with the flu sneezes onto his hand and then touches an object, these germs can live for hours on that object, only to be picked up by the next person who touches it. Using hand sanitizer or washing your hands often kills those surface germs, and is an effective way to reduce the amount of spreadable germs.
Germs cling to bare hands, and sneezing and coughing in them can often result in transferring your germs to others. So, when you feel a cough or sneeze coming, use the inside of your elbow or a tissue to muffle it.
Finally, viruses enter your body through the eyes, nose and mouth. Touching your face is a primary way people catch colds, and it is also the most common way people pass them along to others. So try to avoid touching your face, or use a tissue if need be.
Stay the Course
These prevention suggestions wont totally assure you of a illness -free cold and flu season this year, but they will do a great job at decreasing the likelihood of contracting germs, which cause these illnesses. Practicing these type of prevention methods, as well as a conscious awareness that germs are all around you, might just save you from another round of the sniffles, aches and coughs this season. Youll discover that incorporating these tips into your life will prevent sickness, keep you healthy and give you a boost of energy in the process.
David Novak writes a syndicated newspaper columnist, appearing in newspapers around the country. He also writes for several other publications, where his byline has appeared in the likes of USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. He contributes to Healthline weekly.