I can’t believe it’s almost that time again… winter. Beside beautiful falling snow, winter often brings something entirely different — flu season! In fact, my family’s skin has already faded from golden brown (summer lovin’) to pale white to green-like. My boys have started their first runny noses, and are actually both home from school today (ugh). We slacked off with our health regime all summer long, because we had the benefits of natural sunlight, the great outdoors, and we ate a ton of fruit. However, with back-to-school, a bunch of kids packed into close quarters, for hours on end, it’s only a matter of time before everyone is sick again.
So, seeing that it is December, I wanted to give you some great ways to “flu-proof” yourself and your family this winter season. I am tightening up my regime, and I already have my kids back on their vitamins and pro-biotic. If you’re on the fence about what works and what doesn’t with regards to your family’s well-being, let me give you some proven facts. Even with germs spreading like wildfires, you can absolutely take your health into your own hands. There are many way you can lower your risk of getting sick.
I am going to cover all the categories, so that you can PREVENT getting sick. Prevention here is key.
Here is what to start eating now:
- Yogurt. Now don’t be fooled by all the yogurt labels out there claiming to have “pro-biotic.” The key ingredient here in prevention is Lactobacillus reuteri, a pro-biotic that appears to stimulate infection-fighting white blood cells. In an 80-day Swedish study, workers who took Lactobacillus reuteri, were 33 percent less likely to get sick. The key when looking for yogurt, is to look for the yogurt that contains Lactobacillus acidophilus as well as Bifidus and L. rhamnosus.
- Garlic. Now don’t freak out about the smell, but in another study, those who took a garlic capsule for 12 weeks were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold. And for those who did catch a cold, they suffered for 3 1/2 days LESS. Garlic contains allicin, a potent bacteria fighter, and other infection-fighting compounds. Now you don’t have to resort to capsule form. It’s even better in real food! The suggested quantity is one to three cooked cloves of garlic in your food each day.
- Eating Fruit on an empty stomach. Fruit is best eaten 30 minutes before breakfast, on an empty stomach to fully achieve the benefits. Eaten this way, it acts as a cleanser for your body.
- Black tea. Now I wouldn’t recommend this, because I’m not one of extremes, but I will give you the findings of a Harvard study: Drinking 5 cups a day for two weeks will turn your immune system T cells into “Hulk Cells” producing 10 times more interferon, a protein that fights colds and flus. If you don’t like black tea, green tea will also do the trick. You will still get the benefits without drinking many many cups. Fewer cups still give the benefits.
- Mushrooms. Mushrooms contain 300 compounds to increase immunity, and increase the production of infection fighting white blood cells. Shiitake, maitake, and reishi varieties contain the most immune-boosting chemicals, but good old fashioned regular mushrooms will do!
- Fatty Fish. I think we all know this one, but it’s true. Salmon, mackerel, herring, and other fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which increase activity of phagocytes — these are cells that fight the flu by eating up bacteria, according to a study. DHA and EPA (the two main forms of omega-3s) benefit the immune system at the most basic level, absorbing nutrients and removing toxins.
Almonds. Not only good for your heart, almonds also provide the immune-boosting antioxidant vitamin E, which can reduce your chance of catching colds and developing respiratory infections according to researchers at Tufts University.
For more information on what foods benefit what, click here.
KEEPING GERMS AT BAY
Germs can stay on surfaces for up to THREE DAYS. Here’s how to protect yourself:
- Washing your hands. Hello we know this! I suggest keeping hand sanitizers in your purse as well if you can’t get to a sink after going to the grocery store, the gym, Walmart! I keep them in my purse and car at all times. A hand sanitizer that has 60% alcohol or more will do the trick.
- Paper Towel at Home. During flu season, wiping your hands on dish towels is a sure way to spread germs.
- Disinfect your household items. Your phone, your computer, your keyboard, door handles, light switches, your remote controls, wipe them down daily if you can.
- Elbowing! Try hitting elevator buttons and pushing open public bathroom doors with your elbow.
Also, don’t forget the 5-foot rule. Always maintain 5 feet of distance between you that sneezing someone!
Some natural supplements will also help keep you healthy this fall and winter season:
- Omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t like fish. You can take daily purified fish oil capsules.
- Vitamin D if you don’t get enough natural sunlight. In a study, people who took 2,000IU of Vitamin D had 70% fewer colds and flues and those who didn’t. The recommended daily dose is to not exceed 1,000IU.
- If you feel a cold coming on… try these: Ginseng or Zinc. 30 Mg of Zinc will shorten a cold by a day, it’s been shown.
- Elderberry. I always keep this on hand at home. Dozens of studies offer strong evidence that elderberry extract significantly decreases the duration and severity of influenza A and B infections.
- Oregano Oil. Oregano is my new favorite cold and flu fighting pick. The studies are there: Several studies have shown that oregano oil can inhibit or destroy many strains of bacteria, fungi, and parasites. I put a few drops in a bit of water as soon as I feel a cold coming on, and I have found it to help greatly.
THE OTHER FIGHTERS: EXERCISE AND SLEEP
- Moderate Exercise. 20-30 minutes daily increases blood flow, sends nutrients to your cells, and decreases your stress hormones. As long as it’s not extreme, moderate exercise has been proven to lower your overall risk of upper-respiratory infections.
- Sleep at least 7 hours. Sleep deprivation depresses your immune system. Fact. I am going to give you results now of a study that will blow you away: After 153 healthy men and women were exposed to a cold virus, those who had slept more than 7 hours each night during the preceding 14 days reduced their risk of contracting the rhinovirus by up to 300 percent! Wow, we need to sleep, ladies! If you’re suffering from sleep deprivation, please read this.
- Tai Chi, Yoga, Pilates. All have been shown to increase overall immunity.
- And, getting social! Yes. People who are socially active get fewer colds! Research shows that social and sociable people tend to be more positive, which is tied to strengthened immunity.
So ladies, I hope you’ll share the info with those you love, and start getting proactive when it comes to yours and your family’s overall health and well-being.
Also, if you have any other ideas or strategies that have kept your family healthy, please share them here!