As the holidays approach, we’re also entering peak sickness season. I’ve spoken to several people who have fallen ill due to the flu, stomach viruses, and severe colds. Nutrition plays a big part of whether or not you get sick and the severity of symptoms. A poor diet has an influence on your immune system and if your diet is lacking in several vitamins and minerals, you might be more susceptible to illness. Here are some ways you can prevent getting sick this winter:
- Wash your hands, and do it frequently. I know this is a no-brainer, but it is really important for your hands to stay clean especially when illnesses are going around. If soap makes your hands feel dry and irritated, try keeping a small tube of moisturizer with you. It’s also imperative to keep your hands, cookware, and utensils clean when you’re serving guests to prevent the spread of germs and disease during food preparation.
- Increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies are great sources of Vitamin C. Although the research is mixed some studies claim that increased amounts of vitamin C can help prevent colds. Even if the research is lacking, eating more fruits and veggies can’t hurt.
- Make sure you’re getting enough zinc, especially if you’re suffering from a cold. Again, the research is not concrete at this point, but some studies show that sufficient zinc amounts can help shorten the duration of a cold. The best sources of zinc include oysters and other seafood, lamb, and beef. It can also be found in sunflower seeds and legumes. Zinc is often found in homeopathic cold remedies such as “Cold Eeze” and others, but the best way to get your vitamins and minerals is always through a nutritious diet.
- Stay hydrated. Make sure that you’re drinking enough water throughout the day. The standard is 8 cups (64 ounces) but water needs depend on your sex and body size. It’s especially important to stay hydrated if you do get sick and have stomach virus symptoms.
- If you use sugar in your coffee/tea, try replacing it with honey. Honey has a soothing effect on the throat and can decrease cough symptoms, at least temporarily. The bee pollen and phytochemicals present in certain raw varieties of honey have been shown to decrease environmental allergies, so it’s a good idea to get in the honey habit now and keep using it throughout the seasons.
- Rest. Although it might be tempting to go to every holiday party you’re invited to, if you’re sick, the best thing to do is stay home and rest. You’ll feel better quicker and you won’t run the risk of getting others sick.