10 Ways to Maintain Immune System Health in Cold Weather
Are you and your family prepared for cold weather? If you want to avoid getting sick, start seriously thinking about taking the following preventative measures:
1. Be Sure to Stay Hydrated. During the winter months, it’s more important than ever to drink plenty of water. You might not feel as thirsty in cold weather, but allowing your body to become dehydrated leaves you more vulnerable to getting sick.
2. Wash up. Frequently washing your hands, and teaching your children to do the same, is important when it comes to preventing sickness. Work up a soapy lather for 30 seconds in warm water before eating and after using the bathroom. Don’t forget to wash under your fingernails, too!
3. Change your Toothbrush. Even after you just experience a sore throat, it’s a good idea to swap out your toothbrush for a new one. Germs can hide in the bristles and lead to a possible reinfection.
4. Don’t Neglect your Skin. During winter months, our skin really takes a beating. To keep it healthy, try increasing the level of humidity in your home with humidifiers. Aim for a level between 40 and 50 percent. Remember to continue to wear sunscreen, as winter sun can glare off of the snow, and moisturize thoroughly after showering.
5. Don’t Smoke. Smoking has a significant impact on overall health, and poses a serious threat to your immune system. Winter is a great time to quit!
6. Exercise Regularly. Even if you only have 15 minutes to spare, try to get a workout in. You’ll feel better and a healthy body is better equipped to fight off infection.
7. Reduce Sugar Intake. This might be a difficult rule to adhere to with the holidays around the corner, but heightened sugar intake really compromises the immune system.
8. Fill up on Fiber. Fiber in foods like oats, apples, and nuts can help reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system by increasing anti-inflammatory proteins. The recommended daily fiber intake for an adult woman and children is 25 grams per day, while men should aim for 35 to 40 grams daily.
9. Slip Zinc into Your Yogurt. Mild zinc deficiency can actually lead to the contraction of a cold or flu along with chronic fatigue and poor overall health. Mixing some zinc in with your yogurt will help you ensure that you’re getting the right amount of this mineral along with maintaining the healthy bacteria in your gut.
10. Chill Out. Stress causes illness, so taking a moment every day to de-stress is extremely important during cold and flu season. Our immune systems do not function well when we are stressed, and under stressful circumstances, we are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as eating a poor diet.