My husband likes to joke with me that I have a horrible immune system. That’s probably true. Staying healthy through the winter season is a challenge for us, as it is for so many families. Between the germs that are brought home from daycare and those that come home from school, it seems that the kids and I are always either sick or recovering from something. I’ve decided that won’t be the case this year though. I’m ready for a change. I’ve done my research and I’m armed with ideas. This year I’m going to be intentional about doing a few things that should help us stay healthier. Here are some of the things I’ve uncovered and I bet that at least one of these ideas will be new to you too.
Read on for some ways for your family to stay healthy this winter season too.
Wash your hands – is the advice most given in articles about staying healthy. I usually gloss right over that one. It’s so common sense. But, when you really stop and think about it – it’s pretty good advice. Pause and think about all the surfaces your hands touch in any given day. How many thousands of other people are touching those same surfaces? The door to a public restroom, when you touch a few dollar bills to pay for something, a stair railing at work. You never know what germs the person had who touched that railing right before you. Limiting exposure to those just makes sense.
Doctors say that washing our hands is, in fact, one of the best ways to stay healthy. One key to effective hand washing is to scrub your hands – as the scrubbing motion takes off most of the germs. Also, wash for the amount of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday, for an effective hand washing session.
So, to limit germs from other people when you’re out and about, try doing the following.
- In places you can control (your personal office, your home) wipe down commonly touched surfaces with antibacterial wipes.
- Use your sleeve over your hand to open and close public doors (especially restrooms) and when you use handrails.
- Have your kids wash their hands right when they get home from school or daycare.
- Wash your hands before preparing your meals and also before eating each meal and have your kids do the same. Consider putting a small bottle of lotion by each sink to use to keep hands from getting too dry with all the washing. Cracked hands are no fun and will let in more germs. Putting lotion on after you wash your hands will help keep your hands protected and soft through this dry season.
- Try to avoid touching your face through the day so that any germs on your hands aren’t put by your nose and mouth where they can get into your body more easily.
You are what you eat – is true more this time of year than ever. Diet can play a big role in the strength of our immune system and our ability to fend off disease. Having a stronger immune system from eating healthy is one more motivator to keep eating those colorful fruits and veggies, which are rich in Vitamins C and E, and will strengthen your immunity. Sneaking fresh garlic and onions into your cooking is another must for the winter. These foods are thought to fight viruses and bacteria. Limiting sugar is also helpful as it inhibits your immune cells for a full couple hours post sugary treat. Eating enough protein is important because protein helps build immune cells which then help fight infection. Taking a daily probiotic and eating fiber-rich foods can help keep your gut health where it needs to be and thereby also boosts your immunity.
So to recap:
- Eat colorful fruits and veggies
- Add fresh garlic and onions to your cooking
- Limit the amount of sugar you eat
- Eat plenty of protein
- Take a daily probiotic
- Eat fiber-rich foods (also covered by those fruits and veggies)
Once someone in your home is sick – there are definitely tactics you can take on the offense to limit the spread of germs and to try and kick that cold a bit faster.
- Teach kids to cough into their “chicken wing” which is the inside of their elbow. This keeps germs off their hands and limits what gets into the air.
- Elderberry is the latest and greatest thing to try for shortening the duration of sickness. According to Pharmacy Times, “Many people consider the elderberry plant one of the most powerful for preventing and treating cold and influenza and swear by its antiviral properties. The results of some studies show that elderberries do indeed have significant benefits against cold and influenza symptoms.” You can get Elderberry syrup (or make your own) or buy elderberry gummies which have doses available for kids and adults. Take one dose of elderberry per day on days you feel ill.
- Adults can also take zinc through the day at the first sign of a cold to help kick the cold faster.
- Run a humidifier or diffuser in your home to keep the air from being too dry. When the air is dry, our membranes in our noses and mouths dry out and become less effective at catching germs and sweeping viruses out of the body. Drinking lots of water can help with this too. If you’re a fan of essential oils, add a few drops of an immunity-boosting oil or citrus oil to the diffuser.
- Dr. Stephen Sinatra from Heart MD Institute recommends taking Beta 1,3/1, 6 Glucan through this season, which is an immunity enhancer. He says, “Beta-glucan is extracted from yeast, and it turns up the activity level of the “natural killer” cells in your bloodstream. NK cells are one of the first lines of defense against viruses. Take 250–750 mg daily.”
Finally, remember to take care of yourself. If you are overstressed or run down, you’re more likely to get sick. When you start to feel run down, take some time to rest. Let yourself get plenty of sleep at night if you can. When you’re feeling stressed, try to slow and deepen your breathing to de-escalate your stress. Guided meditations can also be great ways to reset your mind from any stressors that may be running through it. Take that time to rest and de-stress. Think of it this way – if you take an extra half hour to sit or an extra hour a night to sleep, and don’t get sick, you’re saving yourself days and days of time being sick. It’s not indulgent to rest. It’s necessary for you to be your best healthiest self, which allows you to take care of your family. It all comes full circle. This time of year, self-care is a necessity for staying healthy through the winter.
So, eat your veggies. Watch what you touch. Wash your hands often and steer clear of those who are sick. You deserve to take care of you and your family so that you all have a healthy and fun winter!
Here are some resources to check out from this article.
- Essential Oil: Kid Safe Germ Destroyer
- Why I like Plant Therapy Essential Oils
- Elderberry Gummies that we’ve liked
- The Beta 1,3/1, 6 Glucan that I’m trying this year
- Zinc drops that I’ve liked and found to work well
How do you stay healthy in the winter? Follow us over on Instagram to keep the conversation going.
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I am not a doctor, I simply share my personal experience. Please use your judgment and talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.
Sources: WebMD, Pharmacy times, healthywomen.org,
HeartMD Institute: https://heartmdinstitute.com/health-and-wellness/10-natural-ways-stay-healthy-flu-season/
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