Monday, March 14, 2016

10 ways to avoid catching colds and flus

It's that time where we all seem to be sharing our lovely germs. The common cold, flu, bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections... they're everywhere!

So how can you prevent yourself from catching them? Here are a few tips to ward off those illness-inducing viruses and bacteria when everyone else around you is sick:

1) It goes without saying, but I'll do it anyway: Hand washing. If you shake someone's hand out of politeness, make sure you wash those hands before eating anything, touching your face, or shaking anyone else's hand.

2) In reference to #1, wash your grocery produce. Now imagine all of those people who all shook hands, or who touched a door handle that were sick and now they're at the grocery store picking up tomatoes and testing them for firmness (because that's just a thing we do). Give that tomato a nice thorough rinse with water before cutting into it and adding it to your plate. This can eliminate up to 98% of bacteria on the surface of your fruit and veggies.

3) I'm not one for over-sanitizing, but when everyone else in your house is sick, I'd suggest disinfecting door handles, light switches and faucet handles as these are the easiest to get re-infected.

4) Vitamin C: 1000mg of vitamin C per day is great for your immune system and for your adrenal glands (the ones that deal with stress and secrete a bunch of your hormones). Once you're sick this might not do as much for you, but it's great for prevention!

5) Echinacea and other immune system-modulating botanicals: Talk to your naturopath about a botanical formula that can help your immune system. Certain antiviral herbs and adaptogens (botanicals that support a healthy stress response) can help the functioning of your immune system, boost its response to pathogens and also work on reducing your chances of getting sick. But keep in mind that everyone is different. What gets recommended to you might not be recommended for your bestie or neighbour.

6) FLUIDS! Drink lots of water (about 2L for the average person). Especially if you're feeling a sore throat coming on; drinking water helps to keep things moving down and out of your system.

7) Avoid sugar. A dose of sugar can depress your immune system for up to 6 hours after ingestion.

8) Stress management. Keeping your cool puts less stress on your body and its defences. You might feel fine during periods of high stress, but as soon as you relax again, your immune system also takes a breather and this is often when we get sick. For all the students out there I call it "post-exam period illness".
- work on breathing exercises, go for a walk in nature, journal, practice yoga, sing in the car (or the shower), draw or colour something!

9) Get enough sleep! If you're not getting enough sleep during the week, make it up on weekends. Sleep deficit exists! Rest and recharge your body.

10) Improve your gut health. Eating a diet rich in vegetables, and low in sugars can provide key antioxidants and nutrients to help your body run efficiently. Your naturopath may also recommend certain probiotic strains to assist your gut and immune health.