10 Tips for Flu Season Super Defense
September 7, 2009
By Healthy Child Staff
The normally flu-free summer was anything but this year, and many wonder if this fall will be a particularly nasty one for influenza and the common cold. Especially when you factor in the anticipated transmission of H1N1, or Swine Flu. Whether H1N1 is indeed worthy of the anxiety-inducing label “epidemic” remains to be seen. Though the outbreak has been moderate so far (in this country particularly) the illness has public health officials and medical professionals more than a little bit nervous.
But everyone agrees the worst possible thing we could all do at this moment is to panic. So lets all take a deep breath and get proactive: fight the good fight against germs! The many small steps you take against the common cold and flu this fall will also greatly protect you against any other illnesses.
Here are 10 Tips for Super Defense against seasonal cold and flu bugs.
1. Wash Your Hands
The simplest act, yet the most overlooked in fighting off germs. Up the frequency for hand washing, and make sure your children scrub for at least 20 seconds, or as long as it takes to sing the ABCs. Make sure to get front and back, in between fingers, and nail beds. Skip the antibacterials; they’re no more effective than regular soap and they have associated environmental and health risks (antibacterials are useless against viruses anyway).
2. Sanitize When You’re Out and About
Carry a non-toxic hand sanitizer in your purse or pocket for public outings, or daily germ killing at the office or gym. We love CleanWell’s delicious smelling herbal spray. Or make your own using these easy steps! Conventional sanitizers are loaded with potent chemicals, and the over-use of antibacterials wipes out the good bacteria with the bad, leaving nothing to build up immunity.
3. H2O to the Rescue
Sometimes in the colder months of the year we’re under the impression we don’t need as much water as we do in the hot ones. Not true. In fact we need just as much, and more still if you want to help your body flush out toxins, impurities, and fight illness. Keep the canteen at hand and make water the beverage of choice at mealtimes.
4. Eat Healthy
Foods provide a major line of defense for your body, but some are immune system all-stars. Carrots, kiwis, raisins, green beans, oranges, strawberries: they all contain such immunity-boosting phytonutrients as vitamin C and carotenoids. Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, brussell sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower, are good sources of betacarotene and help protect against free-radical damage.
Getting a full night’s sleep (and maybe a long nap on the weekend) goes a long way toward keeping your body’s immune system strong and ready to fight. When you start burning the candle at both ends, and sacrificing sleep, your resistance will be lowered and you’re more vulnerable to illness. The average adult needs about 6-8 hours of sleep. A newborn may need up to 18 hours a day, toddlers require 12 to 13 hours, and preschoolers need about 10 hours.
6. Stay Home When Ill
This is sometimes the most difficult piece of advice to follow. Today’s society doesn’t put much emphasis on taking time to heal your body or guard your health; it’s hard to disconnect or miss a day or two to stay in bed. But we’ve all had that one co-worker who passes their miserable cold to every single person in the building. For schools in particular, group immunity relies heavily on sick children staying home. Plan ahead and talk with your employer, friends and family to engage a support system in case you or your children need to stay home.
7. Cover Your Nose, but not with your hands!
The CDC recently revised the age-old proverb, “Cover your nose!”. When coughing or sneezing, yes, indeed, cover your mouth and nose to prevent the dissemination of your germs. But unless you wash up immediately afterward, your hands will only go on to spread those germs to door handles, computer keyboards, and other people. The CDC recommends turning inward, and letting your sleeve or arm catch your germs. Better yet, grab a tissue when you feel the tickle of a sneeze or cough. Then toss the tissue and wash your hands.
Exercising bolsters the cells that fight off illness. Don’t neglect your exercise routine once the months turn colder, and keep the kids engaged in sports at school. Try making exercise a family group activity, whether it’s hiking, biking, yoga, or playing the Wii!
9. Keep Your Hands Off Your Face
Your eyes, nose and mouth are doorways for germs to enter your body. The main vehicle for getting to these doorways is your hands. If you have an itch, try using your arm instead of your hand or wash your hands before touching your face.
Stress and anxiety compromise immunity. Take some time every day to decompress and enjoy yourself. Cuddle up with your kids and a good book. Have a tickle-fest for some relaxing family laughter. Take deep, calming breaths any time you start to feel wound up.