In the thick of winter’s endlessly chilly days, getting sick is almost assumed to be inevitable. Not so. With a few lifestyle tweaks you can avoid the most common winter illnesses. Here’s your 6 step plan to avoid getting sick this winter:-
- Wash your hands often and correctly. Many illnesses are spread by physical contact. A friendly handshake, or touching a doorknob can transmit a virus quite easily. As such, wash your hands often and correctly. Research has shown that 95% of people wash their hands incorrectly. So how do you do it? Rub them together with soap for at least 20 seconds before rinsing (or the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice) and, if you use hand towels to dry off at home, replace them frequently.
- Stay Two Arm’s Lengths Away. If there is an outbreak of flu in your immediate environment, keep your distance. Studies show that infectious, flu-containing particles exhaled by a sick person travel about 6 feet.
- Do not touch your face. People often touch their face, nose and eyes unconsciously, which is why proper hand-washing is so important. Scientists have correlated the amount of time people spend touching their face to an increase in respiratory illness. Touching your face is a difficult habit to break. Here’s a link to a few ideas to help you break it.
- Get a daily dose of vitamin D. Vitamin D is an important player in avoiding getting sick in the winter, but we have much higher rates of vitamin D deficiency. We don’t go out as much and when we do the winter sun is too low in short-wave UV light to produce adequate amounts. Nutritionists suggest we supplement with a high-quality natural vitamin D-3 product. And, when we have a warm, sunny day make a point of going outside around noon (when the sun’s rays are the strongest). As a bonus,vitamin D is a great mood booster.
- Exercise. Did you know that while you are taking that brisk walk outside your doing double duty? Exercise, especially outdoor exercise, is a good friend of the immune system. A recent study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that exercising five times a week reduces upper respiratory infections by as much as 50%.
- Don’t forget your vitamin Z. Numerous studies have found that people who sleep 7 hours per night develop cold and flu symptoms at a significantly lower rate than those who sleep only 5 or 6 hours. While no one knows precisely why this is the case, it has been speculated that lack sleep suppresses the immune system.
- Eat your greens. A whole food diet will really support your body and prevent you from catching a cold or a virus because the immune system also lies within the gut. Nutritionists suggest we focus on lots of dark, leafy greens, citrus fruits and omega 3-3s, while avoiding things like alcohol and processed sugars. There are a few tricks to start eating more plant-based foods and, for a little extra insurance, I personally add this whole-food supplement to my diet every day.