When fall comes around, it isn’t just time to celebrate Halloween and the holiday season or enjoy pumpkin spice lattes. It is also a time to be aware of the risk of contracting various illnesses, especially the cold and flu.
The onset of fall is also the start of both cold and flu season, putting you and your family members at risk of being ill for days or weeks at a time.
When it comes to the cold and flu, prevention is better than cure. Why resort to all types of harmful medication to treat the symptoms when there are ways you can prevent the cold and flu naturally.
Check out some of the ways you can stay fighting fit with healthy habits and some lifestyle changes so you can truly enjoy the fall and winter seasons.
Before talking about the different ways to prevent the cold and flu naturally, let’s look at the difference between the cold and the flu.
The common cold is a type of viral infection you get in your upper respiratory tract. You might get a head cold, a chest cold, or a combination of both.
The cold is generally less of a health risk than the flu, though it can make you feel just as miserable.
The cold often manifests with symptoms such as:
- Runny Nose
- Sore Throat
- Slight Fever
The common cold usually lasts a little less time than the flu. In most cases, you can get better in about a week.
Influenza, which is more commonly known as the flu, is a more serious illness and often requires medical intervention.
The flu is a type of respiratory illness caused by either the A or B influenza virus. It is all too common during fall and continues right through the winter season.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to keep symptoms of cold and flu at bay. These tips for preventing the cold and flu can help.
Prevention Tip #1 – Develop Daily Healthy Habits
When you are trying to prevent illnesses like the cold and flu, you should first take a look at your daily habits. There are several small things that may seem insignificant, but actually, have a major impact on your overall health.
These daily habits do not boost your immune system, but they stop the spread of germs, hopefully in time to prevent you from catching your daughter’s cold she brought home from school or the flu that is going around at work.
Wash Your Hands Regularly
You guessed it – the first daily healthy habit that can help you prevent the cold and flu is washing your hands regularly. Touching a contaminated surface is one of the fastest ways that germs spread. Just touching a surface with cold or flu germs and then touching your mouth or nose is enough for you to catch the cold or flu.
Germs spread very easily, even when you don’t realize it. However, by doing something as simple as washing your hands more often, especially in the workplace, you can prevent the spread of germs.
Wash your hands every time you enter the office bathroom, even if you have not used the restroom. Every time you touch that knob on the bathroom door or any bathroom surfaces, you might be subjecting yourself to germs left behind by someone who is ill.
Before you walk out of the building for lunch, head to the bathroom or break room and wash your hands.
Wash your hands when you get home. Whether you were picking your kids up from school, running errands, or returning from work, washing your hands whenever you get home is another great opportunity to get rid of excess germs you might be carrying around.
Stop Touching Your Mouth or Face So Much
Most of us do not realize how often we touch our mouth or face. If you tend to touch your face, eyes, and mouth often, you are subjecting yourself to a higher risk of spreading germs before you even get the chance to wash your hands of those germs. Try to stop the habit of mindlessly touching your mouth or face.
Also avoid using your hands to cover a cough or sneeze. Instead, keep a tissue handy at all times and throw it away in the trash immediately after use. Do not leave it lying around on your table.
Get Regular Exercise
Exercise is amazing for your overall health and fitness, but that isn’t the only benefit. Studies have shown that aerobic exercise can also be beneficial for your immune system.
With regular exercise, your heart is pumping and you are improving the blood flow through your entire body. This can actually boost the cells in your body that kill viruses including the cold and flu virus.
Sneaking a little more exercise throughout the week will work wonders for preventing the cold and flu.
Prevention Tip #2 – Avoid These Unhealthy Habits
Developing healthy daily habits is good but you also need to be aware of the unhealthy habits that might be causing you harm. You are probably aware of the dangers of habits like drinking and smoking, but what you might not know is how it can impact your immune system.
Avoiding these unhealthy habits can help to prevent cold and flu symptoms:
Smoking is the single worst thing you can do for your overall health and especially your lungs. It can also affect your immune system.
People who smoke tend to have a weaker immunes system, which makes it more difficult to fight off infections. This can increase your risk for getting the flu or even pneumonia if you are in contact with the influenza virus.
Try to cut back on smoking at least, even if you can’t quit cold turkey. Talk to your doctor about different smoking cessation methods, whether you try meditation, the patch, or the other methods now available.
Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Yes, it is also time to cut back on drinking. This doesn’t mean you should not have a glass of wine or cocktail. However, you must cut back if you tend to drink heavily.
Alcohol weakens your immune system and hampers your ability to fight off infections. It also causes dehydration, which exacerbates cold and flu symptoms.
Eating Junk Foods
The food you eat, as mentioned in the previous section, makes a big difference. Take a look at your diet and examine where you can cut out bad food to replace it with good.
Sure, a donut might be just as filling to you for breakfast as a bowl of oatmeal with berries, but it has almost no vitamins in it. It is better to choose more nutrient-dense foods throughout the day.
Eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, healthy fats, lean protein, and reduced dairy products.
Prevention Tip #3 – Focus on Cleanliness
Now that you know about those daily habits for your own personal health, it is time to control your surroundings. In many cases, it is not when you come into contact with other people when you catch the cold or flu virus from them, but from touching the same surroundings as them. Washing your hands often can definitely keep germs away, but don’t forget about your environment as well.
Here are some tips for ensuring you are keeping your environment clean and reducing the risk of germs being spread at home and in the workplace:
Use antibacterial wipes on all surfaces – This is probably the simplest way to control germs in your home and in the workplace. Keep antibacterial wipes handy, and wipe down surfaces regularly. This includes the desks, phones, door handles, bathroom and break room surfaces, countertops, and any tools people are using daily.
Make Tissues Readily Available – It is always good to have ample amounts of tissue throughout your home and work so that nobody is spreading germs by coughing or sneezing without a tissue. Used tissues must be disposed off in the trash cans immediately after using them.
Focus on Housekeeping – In your home, cleaning a little more often during the cold and flu season is never a bad idea. This allows you to ensure you are doing your best at getting rid of the extra germs.
Have a Clean Workspace – Not only will washing your hands help to prevent the cold and flu, but having a clean workspace also helps tremendously. In the workplace, no matter where you work, there is a risk of germs and bacteria spreading between co-workers. Try to keep antibacterial wipes at your desk, wiping down surfaces as often as needed, from the edge of your desk, to your phone and keyboard.
Prevention Tip #4 – Maintain a Healthy Diet
You also want to keep getting enough nutrients and vitamins into your system to help build a barrier against bacteria and viruses that lead to the cold and flu. You can do this by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Try to go for fresh, whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry, seafood, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. With this making up the bulk of your diet, you will be getting plenty of nutrients to help prevent the cold and flu.
Repair your gut because your gut is the gateway to health and almost 80% of your immune system is situated in the gut. That means it needs to be in peak condition. Take a top quality probiotic to keep up good levels of bacteria to fight off infection.
Reduce Sugar and Carbohydrates – Processed foods and unhealthy foods like extra sugar and carbohydrates do not do a body good. These can be harmful to your overall health, and can also increase the risk of getting the flu. Try to stick to a healthy diet, reducing your sugar and carbs, and you will notice that you are less susceptible to this type of virus.
Go slow on alcohol consumption because when you consume too much, you suppress the immune system, causing leaky gut. Just moderate alcohol consumption can suppress your central nervous system too which is part of your important immune system.
Drink a bone broth. Maybe you remember your mother or grandmother giving you chicken broth when you were sick and how it made you feel so much better. It’s not just folklore – bone broth does actually benefit your immune system. Studies show that when you eat chicken soup during respiratory infection times, you quell inflammation. It’s so easy to make – you boil turkey or chicken bones and vegetable pieces roughly for around 8 hours. Add some collagen or gelatin to the bone broth to optimize on healthifying your immune system and supporting a healthy gut to protect your body against invasive pathogens.
Tip #5 – Increase Your Vitamin Intake
You might already know that you need to follow a healthy diet when you want to keep away illnesses, but don’t forget about the specific vitamins and minerals that are essential to boosting your immune system. Try your best to increase the following vitamins if you want to prevent the cold, influenza virus, and other seasonal illnesses:
The first supplement you should get plenty of in order to prevent these illnesses is zinc. Zinc is a trace element found in many healthy foods, but you can also take it as an additional supplement. When you have enough zinc in your system during cold and flu season, you can actually allow your body’s cells to get in the way of viruses infecting them, thus boosting your immunity naturally.
Some foods that are a good source of zinc are:
Lean protein like chicken and pork
Adding these zinc-rich foods to your diet will reduce your chances of getting the flu and cold.
This is probably going to come as no surprise to you, as vitamin C is often the highest recommended nutrient for people with a cold or flu. However, it can also help to prevent the cold and similar illnesses as long as you focus on nutritious foods with this vitamin.
So, why vitamin C? Because it is wonderful for your immune system. Many people who get sick easily do so not just because they are in frequent contact with people who have a cold, but because they don’t have enough nutrients to boost their immune system naturally. The good news is that it is incredibly easy to get more vitamin C.
If you prefer, you can take a vitamin C supplement or a multi-vitamin with enough C in it. There are also plenty of foods with this vitamin in it, like:
Herbs & Spices
Aside from vitamins, you get from foods, don’t forget about nutritious herbs and spices that contain natural antiviral and antibiotic properties. These include:
As you can see, it is easy to prevent the cold and flu naturally with simple and healthy lifestyle changes.
Take supplements of glutathione and turmeric because they are antioxidants, important for the right functioning of the immune function. Glutathione is the main antioxidant in the body and is responsible for enhancing the immune system as well as assisting the liver with detoxification. Turmeric improves cardiovascular function and joint health.
Prevention Tip #6 – Get Moderate Regular Exercise
Don’t forget about exercise! This isn’t just good for weight loss and improving your heart health, but can actually boost your immune system. When you have a stronger immune system, you have a better resistance to colds and other similar illnesses. Try to walk a few days a week or get other forms of moderate exercise on a regular basis.
Live a healthy lifestyle, as it is important to look after your health. That means getting enough rest and nutrition. Many think these are just old wives tales, but it is really important to get good nutritional food into your system, not to smoke and to keep allergies under control. If you don’t, your upper respiratory tract could become inflamed. This makes you more vulnerable to get a virus.
Reduce stress because stress suppresses the immune system. Consider things like acupuncture, or yoga, or medication to reduce stress.
Prevention Tip #7 -Disinfect Your Home Regularly
If you are like most people, you are good at cleaning your house, but it isn’t just about vacuuming and cleaning up messes. You also need to focus on cleaning surfaces with a disinfectant.
If you don’t have a lot of time, get disinfectant wipes that you can use to quickly wipe surfaces like refrigerator and oven handles, countertops, bathroom surfaces, doorknobs, and anything else that is touched frequently. That way, if someone comes with home flu germs, they are not spreading it around to everyone else in the house.
Reduce the Humidity in Your Home
Believe it or not, the amount of humidity in your home can also make a big difference in whether or not flu germs are spread. There have been studies that look at homes with higher levels of humidity and how susceptible those family members were to getting the flu. They found that humidity can cause present flu germs to be spread on surfaces and in the air as it lingers a little longer in the moist air. If you want to reduce your risk of getting the flu, get a dehumidifier and try to keep that humidity as low as possible.
Designate One Room as a Sick Room
This is a really important sick room people often forget about. Even if you have a clean home, when you have someone is ill, they are constantly spreading their germs around. It is important that they stay in just one room or one area of the home, so that the germs are not spread around. This gives you less work as far as cleaning and disinfecting, and it keeps other family members from getting the same illness. This might be a bedroom with a bathroom attached or a main room like the living room that is close to the kitchen.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using any natural medication or if you experience any unusual symptoms. See Full Disclaimer here.