Your guide to beating the bug
21 Jan 2005
Cold Season Cautions
The common cold – it can run you down and keep you suffering for weeks, with no end in sight. The worst part of getting sick is that life doesn’t stop just for you – chores pile up, work doesn’t get done, and playing catch-up is far from enjoyable. Upwards of 1 billion colds plague American’s each year, and the cold season covers half of the entire year: October through March. Protect yourself against illness with these 7 simple steps, and keep yourself out of the infirmary...
Keep your hands off of possibly germ-infested surfaces (which is just about everything), and off of your face. Direct contact with sick people, such as touching or kissing them, is the #1 way germs are transmitted – 80% of colds are spread by direct contact. Indirect contact, such as handling a doorknob which a sick person has touched (unbeknownst to you), and then spreading it to your face by touching your mouth, nose or eyes, is the other way you can transmit disease. It’s impossible to stop touching everything, but you should be minding where your hands have been, and be sure to clean your hands regularly.
Proper hand washing is especially important during the cold & flu season. Especially when you use the bathroom, you need to wash with warm, soapy water for at least 15 seconds – the time it takes to sing the ABC’s. After washing, don’t touch the faucet, paper towel dispenser knob, or door handle on the way out. Use your forearms or elbows to turn off the faucet and to dispense paper, and if possible, carry your used paper towel to the door and use it to open it up, throwing the towel into the garbage afterwards. These simple hand washing techniques can keep germs where they belong – down the drain and off of you.
You’ve heard it once, you’ll hear it twice – stress weakens the immune system. You also know that stress is an inevitable part of our world, but there really is a balance that you can achieve – it’s called learning to unwind. Leave stress behind, whether at work, school, or other places, and incorporate some peace into your day to help you de-stress. Take a walk mid-afternoon to clear your mind, join a yoga class, or close your eyes and just going blank for a few moments. Whatever it is that helps, do it often.
Drink up! Drinking water should be part of your regular routine, but it’s also very important during the cold & flu season. Liquids keep things moving, and keep you hydrated. An especially powerful fluid during cold season is hot tea, especially peppermint flavors, which clears nasal congestion and open up your airways. Hot soup also warms the heart and soul and provides a lot of nutrients in just one bowl. In fact, soup is a great place to get a full serving of phytochemical-rich root vegetables and protein-rich meats or beans.
Three supplements in particular play a vital role in bolstering the immune system during cold season: vitamin C, zinc and Echinacea. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant and has been shown to shorten the duration of colds. Zinc is absolutely essential for a healthy immune system – no way around that! Echinacea is an herb that has been used for centuries to bolster the immune system, and studies show it really does shorten both the severity and duration of colds, if taken at the first sign of sickness. These three supplements should be a part of your infection-fighting formula, and you can find them in the LifeScript program when you take your Free Personalized Vitamin Profile.
It’s true; people who exercise regularly really are less likely to get sick. In fact, studies have highlighted the fact that exercising daily and maintaining a healthy body weight helps you fight infection. Walking just 30 minutes every day can help you on your way to a healthier you, and is part of a healthy routine.
Getting the right nutrition fuels your body and keeps your health in check. Eating lots of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, healthy whole grains, low-fat dairy products, legumes, and lean meats gives your body every food source it needs to maintain a healthy immune system. Fruits and vegetables also contain disease-fighting phytochemicals, which should be an integral part of your infection-fighting diet. Check out this week’s Science of Beauty article – Fabulous Fall Phytonutrients.