10 Tips to Avoiding Illness This Winter
While the rest of the country is finally seeing the tail end of an active flu season, here in New Jersey we are still battling the virus according to an article from NJ 101.5 citing State Epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan.* It is important to keep practicing a few easy healthy habits to ensure we avoid illness.
With the flu, stomach bugs, colds and the like being spread around like wildfire, the question on everyone’s mind is: “How can I avoid getting sick?” The following tips will not make you invincible, but they should help you at least avoid the obvious ways of having an illness transferred to you.
(In no particular order)
- Wash your hands. Perhaps the most obvious one as we are always touching things with our hands. Going to lunch without scrubbing the germs from holding onto a bar to steady yourself on the subway is a surefire way to get an infection.
- Avoid sick people. Sick people carry germs that could infect you. That is why they are sick. The more time you spend with a sick person (assuming the illness is contagious), the more likely you are to contract the illness yourself.
- Get plenty of sleep. Resting gives your body a chance to stop focusing on your life and start focusing on itself. Your immune system is a very powerful tool to fight illness, but you have to give it a chance to do so.
- Cut back on the alcohol. Alcohol might be socially acceptable and many enjoyable evenings owe much to its effects, but alcohol is a poison that your body has to metabolize out of its system. This forces your body to expend extra resources that could be better spent by fighting off infections.
- Salt water has major benefits. There are basically two things you can do with salt water: you can squirt it up your nose by using a Neti Pot or another type of rinse, or you can simply gargle with it. Both of these practices have major health benefits because salt is a natural antibacterial agent. It will clean the bacteria-riddled mucus out of your nose and help fight respiratory infections when gargling with it.
- Drink lots of water. Your body needs lots of water to maintain its regular processes. Giving your body more than enough water is a way to help guarantee that your body and immune system are running at their full capacity.
- Take vitamins and supplements. Vitamins C and D are both hugely important with preventing infections, but D is of particular importance. Normally you soak up Vitamin D right from the sun, but in the winter months, more time is spent indoors than usual and vitamins can help make up the difference.
- Eat your fruits and veggies. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. This goes along with taking your vitamins. Eating fruits and veggies allows you to satisfy some of your vitamin requirements in your regular diet.
- Try probiotics. These supplements contain live bacteria meant to balance the microflora (fancy word for bacteria) in your digestive tract. By maintaining this balance, we become less susceptible to all types of nasty infections.
- Listen to your body. Your body will give you a warning when it’s beginning to succumb to an infection. Whether that warning is a headache, a bad mood, feeling uncharacteristically tired or something else entirely, respond to these warnings by making sure you are keeping up with all the other tips.