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10 Tips to Help You Through Cold & Flu Season

Colds & flu are still going around. And with our exceptionally long winter, it is even more important for each of us to take special care. Since there is no established cure for the common cold, the best strategy is prevention. Below are some simple proactive steps we can take to protect ourselves from “the bug”:

Wash your hands often. Most cold and flu viruses are spread by direct contact with contaminated surfaces. Say, someone with the flu coughs or sneezes onto their hand, and then grabs the phone, or a glass or a doorknob. These germs can live on surfaces for hours – even weeks in some cases – just waiting to be passed onto the next person who uses those objects. So be sure to wash your hands, and wash them often.

Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue. Muffling coughs and sneezes with our bare hands is almost a reflex action. Unfortunately, it is also a common way to spread germs and viruses. Have facial tissues on hand. When you feel a cough or sneeze coming on, use a tissue. If none are available, use your upper sleeve or turn away from people near you and cough into the air.

Don’t touch your face. Cold and flu viruses enter the body through the eyes, nose or mouth. A person touches a contaminated surface then touches a part of their face. This is the primary method by which children catch colds, and a key way they pass them on to their parents.

Drink plenty of water. This is good advice any time of the year, but it becomes even more important during cold and flu season. Water flushes out the system, ridding the body of harmful toxins, and keeping the body well-hydrated. Drinking eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day is the typical recommendation in any case.

Get fresh air. A healthy dose of fresh air every day is important especially if you spend a lot of time indoors. Central heating units can dry out the mucous membranes of your eyes, nose and mouth making you vulnerable to cold and flu viruses. Also, colder weather means more people indoors. Consequently, this means more germs circulating in enclosed spaces.

Eat your veggies. Regular intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with improved health and reduced risk of major diseases. Fruits and vegetables – especially those with vibrant colors – are rich in antioxidants and other phytonutrients that can greatly support your immune system.

Do aerobic exercise regularly. Aerobic exercise gets the heart pumping, allowing for greater transfer of oxygen from your lungs to the blood. This helps bring nutrients to the rest of your body, helps eliminate toxins from cells and helps your immune system produce virus-killing antibodies. Aerobic exercise can be as simple as a nice brisk afternoon walk for 20 minutes.

Don’t smoke. Statistics show that heavy smokers succumb to more severe colds, more frequently than the rest of the population. Even second-hand smoke can compromise immune function. Smoke dries out your nasal passages and can affect your body’s ability to eliminate germs and viruses.

Limit alcohol consumption. Heavy alcohol use damages the liver, the body’s primary detoxifying organ. A compromised liver makes it more difficult for the body to eliminate harmful germs, viruses and other toxic materials. Consequently, heavy drinkers have a greater susceptibility to infections. Even moderate alcohols consumption can hinder immune function, as alcohol dehydrates the body.

Take time to relax. Unmanaged stress can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to infection. Studies have demonstrated that regular practice of relaxation techniques can actually increase immuno-supportive cofactors in the bloodstream. Relaxation techniques take on various forms – meditation, yoga, visualization, just to name a few. Find a form that appeals to you and do it regularly.

By Mario Roxas, ND

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