Have you ever considered that nearly every aspect of your life plays a key role in the prevention of common ills?
Sure, you know that eating an apple a day is supposed to keep the doctor away and that orange juice is a good source of vitamin C. Fortunately, there is a great deal more that you can eat to keep yourself and your family healthy during cold and flu season.
1. Eat Well to Increase your Resistance to Illness
Local, organic, fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with an array of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals which enhance immunity, inhibit the growth of germs, and maintain your body’s defenses. Include raw foods so that you may obtain the highest levels of nutrients, including enzymes.
Enjoy fermented foods regularly in the diet. Homemade sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir and miso are excellent. They enhance the health of the digestive tract and the immune system.
Eat spicy and pungent foods. Garlic, horseradish, onions and mustard are foods which possess potent antimicrobial compounds. These are warming foods. They improve the circulation, reduce inflammation, and prevent stagnation of fluids within tissues, thereby diminishing chances of infection.
For an example of how infections develop from inflammation and stagnation, let’s consider sinus irritation. The tissues are inflamed within the sinus cavities and the nasal passages. This leads to stagnation of the tissues and of mucus. The clogged air passages become breeding grounds for bacterial growth. As a result, a sinus infection occurs.
Think of what happens when you eat a spicy food or hot soup. Your nose runs. As a result, stagnation diminishes, inflammation is reduced, and germs no longer have a comfortable breeding ground to grow in. The result is enhanced healing. If you are not ill, you may prevent illness by enjoying hot beverages and spicy foods on a regular basis.
Be sure to remain well-hydrated at all times.
2. Get Some Fresh Air and Exercise
The air outside is a whole lot healthier than inside air. Sunshine provides needed vitamin D. If you enjoy physical activity outside, your general stamina will improve. Many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder due to a lack of light. Even if you do not, it is likely that you feel less well and are less active during colder weather. Exercise prevents stagnation of the mind, emotions and the body. An improved feeling of well being offers powerful healing benefits for the whole body.
3. Have a Great Night’s Sleep
If you are running on empty, you will catch every bug in the neighborhood. If you have children, and use their sleep time, to catch up on laundry, dishes and other chores, you may end up getting worn down. Health experts recommend that we get to bed by 10 p.m. each night in order to take advantage of the body’s innate biological clock. Have a regular bed time. Listen to your body’s needs for rest.
Many people choose to live a healthy lifestyle. They don’t smoke, they eat well, and they avoid or limit alcohol. Yet they say, “I have so much to do, I either can’t sleep because I am so stressed “ or “I don’t have choice, I can only sleep six hours at night or else I won’t get everything done.” Consistently adopting poor sleep habits and patterns may not be as unhealthy as smoking; however, it does have serious health effects, especially over extended periods of time. Assess your lifestyle. Figure out what you need to do to get enough good quality sleep. Sleep is not a luxury. It is no different than choosing to eat a healthy diet.
4. Employ Infection Control Strategies
As a health care practitioner I know that the most important way to prevent the spread of illness, is simple hand washing. Wash your hands with soap and water. Use natural antibacterial gels if soap and water is not available.
I do not recommend the use of antibacterial soaps. Most germs are removed with ordinary soap and water. It is the friction that you apply to your hands which helps to get rid of germs. I am concerned that overuse of antibacterial products on a regular basis is speeding up the development of hard-to-treat super bugs. If you want to use a liquid soap and boost its antibacterial qualities, add a few drops of an essential oil. For example, add a teaspoon of lavender or rosemary essential oil to a 12-ounce container of liquid soap. Essential oils destroy bacteria. Because they are complex plant compounds, bacteria are unable to develop resistance to them. Wash your hands for a minimum of 15 or 20 seconds. Wash each finger. Use a paper towel to turn off the water.
If you have children, teach them good hygienic practices. Insist that they blow their noses and promptly discard of the tissue. Teach them to cough into the crook of their elbow and cover their noses when they sneeze. My niece likes to add food coloring and tangerine essential oil to hand soap so that it “looks pretty” and smells good. If your kids are more likely to use novelty soaps, purchase or make them. It is a small price to pay for a healthy family.
Adopt these simple strategies and you may find that you remain healthy all winter long.