Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

It's almost that time of year again...I don't mean Christmas or Thanksgiving, rather Cold and Flu Season. I hate getting sick. Hate. Colds are my arch nemesis. During my two pregnancies with my kids, I was more miserable with a cold than I was in the 60 combined weeks of 24/7 severe morning sickness. Just something about not being able to breathe sends me into a crazed panic of feeling like I'm being buried alive. So, I aim to stay healthy since being buried alive is not on my bucket list.

While many contend that getting sick is good for the immune system, if the body is exposed to an illness and can fight it off itself, it still builds immunity without the misery of a cold. I get sick every few years, and Stinker gets perhaps two colds a year. We don't bubble ourselves up or refuse to leave the house, but there are a few healthy habits we use to keep our immune systems at their peak.

1. Cut the Sugar
-Refined sugar is one of the worst things for the immune system. It almost immediately suppresses your body's defenses. I remember reading that many experts trace the beginning of cold and flu season to a few days after Halloween. Why? All that candy lowers the immune system and makes people more susceptible to illness. Cutting out refined sugars can help keep you healthy.

2. Wash Your Hands
-We have a rule in our home that everyone needs to wash their hands as soon as we get home, wherever we've been. Washing your hands before meals, and especially before bed (people often touch their face while they sleep, which can lead to colds), can stop the spread of germs.

3. Don't Touch Your Eyes
-Most people think the mouth is most susceptible to germs, but it's actually your eyes. Washing your hands before touching your eyes (or using your sleeve to scratch or rub your eye while you're out and about), will reduce your exposure.

4. Probiotics
-It's surprising to find out that most of our immune function begins in our stomach. Having a healthy stomach can mean a healthy body. I take Probiotics daily, trying to keep my immune system functioning at it's highest.

5. Staying Healthy With Food
-I make my kids smoothies frequently with lots of fruits, and sometimes vegetables, in order to keep their immune system strong. Raw garlic, cinnamon, and raw honey all contain antibacterial properties. Elderberry extract is a wonderful supplement for fighting off colds, or just ramping up your immune system.

And, everyone gets sick sometimes, despite best efforts. Junior still doesn't sleep through the night all the time, and our life is on-the-go busy, so our immune systems will likely never be as strong as we would like (most experts recommend getting extra sleep and getting rid of stressors during cold and flu season, but that's simply not possible with young children). Sometimes a warm blanket and chicken noodle soup  are the only cures.

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