Cold and flu season is here. Are you doing everything you can to avoid the latest bug? Make sure you’re at least following the seven tips below:
- Wash AND Dry Your Hands – It takes a good scrub with soap and water to actually rub a virus off your skin. Don’t skimp. Try singing the lyrics to your favorite song to ensure proper length of hand washing. And don’t forget to dry them well. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), wet hands are more likely to spread germs than dry ones.
- Take Your Vitamins – Your sunshine vitamin (vitamin D) levels are lower in the winter months when the days are shorter. Canadian researchers have found that taking 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 a week may cut your risk of upper respiratory infection in half.
- Keep Your Hands Away from Your Face – According to a recent study in the Journal of Occupational Health, people who occasionally touch their eyes and nose are 41 percent more likely to develop frequent upper respiratory infections than hands-off folks.
- Consume Probiotics – Make Greek yogurt part of your breakfast routine and you might just ward off a cold or the flu. In a study published in Clinical Nutrition, people who consumed a specific strain of probiotics daily reduced their risk of catching one of these bugs by 27 percent.
- Use a Humidifier – When your nasal passages get dried out, their natural antimicrobial properties will suffer. Plus, a recent study suggests that maintaining an indoor humidity level between 40-60% can actually reduce the survival of flu viruses on surfaces and in the air. Not at home during the day? Try using saline nasal spray to keep things moist. It acts like a humidifier to keep sinus mucus moving and can help wash away allergens and germs before they cause inflammation.
- Get Your Yoga On – Scientists in Japan speculate that twisting yourself into yoga stretches may help boost your immune defenses, which in turn can better prepare you to fight illnesses like pneumonia, colds, and the flu. The combo of relaxation and physical activity triggers an increase in saliva levels of beta-defensin 2, an antimicrobial peptide that breaks down invading microbes. Just one 90-minute yoga session doubles beta-defensin 2.
- Eat Fish – A study in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that increasing your omega-3 intake can spur production of infection-fighting cells, which can help protect against certain infections. Not a fish fan? Try a krill oil supplement. They offer all the omega-3 benefits, without the fishy taste.