Staying well in the “cold weather season”

We are getting into what we in The South refer to as “sick season.” I have spent the last two weeks recuperating from a nasty sinus infection. Due to a few long term health issues, I am mostly unable to take antibiotics. I have a few other tips for dealing with “sick season” ailments that I’d like to share today.

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a healthcare professional. I’m a teacher with two autoimmune disorders and an inability to take antibiotics. There are a few methods for preventing and treating illness that I religiously support.

1. Diet and activity level affect your immunity

According to a study by Harvard University’s T.H. Chan’s School of Public Health, exercising and eating a balanced diet can increase your body’s resistance to viruses and infections. The study says, “a deficiency of single nutrients can alter the body’s immune response. Animal studies have found that deficiencies in zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, D, and E can alter immune responses.”

2. Take your supplements

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There are a few vitamin supplements I take daily to increase my body’s immunity. Taking echinacea, astralagus, vitamin D, Vitamin C and zinc can help you avoid getting sick. The Cleveland Clinic recommends that you “eat your fill of vitamins C, B6 and E, plus zinc and selenium.” All of these supplements can be easily attained at vitamin shops and natural food stores, drug stores, and big box supercenters. I have even seen them at the small grocery shops with the initials D.G. that are frequently located in rural areas.

3. Wash your hands frequently

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Washing your hands frequently is quite possibly your greatest defense against getting sick. Keep high level disinfecting hand sanitizer with you for when you can’t wash your hands. Sanitizer is not as effective as hand washing with water and soap, but it is better than nothing.

4. Stay hydrated

Some people will tell you hydration has nothing to do with your immunity. “Water is vital for the functioning of all of your organs, and it’s a huge part of keeping your immune system functioning at an optimal level,” says Dr. Jyothi Tirumalasetty, assistant professor of medicine at UCLA Health in the department of clinical immunology and allergy.

5. Don’t skimp on sleep

woman sleeping on a bed with white blanket
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A tired body and a tired immune system cannot function at its peak. Get adequate rest to avoid becoming ill. According to the Mayo Clinic, “studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.”

We hope you and your families are healthy and well this fall. In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we must remember to take care of ourselves.

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