As cold and flu season approaches, it’s important to instill healthy practices in our families and children. Bacteria and viruses spread quickly, and there are several ways to avoid catching germs and preventing illness.
Check out these 7 easy ways to avoid the sniffles this season.
1. Diligent Hand Washing
The best way to avoid the flu this year (other than the flu shot, of course) is diligent hand washing. As many as 80 percent of infections are transmitted through contact like sneezing, coughing, or touching surfaces with bacteria, and then touching your mouth, eyes, or nose.
To reduce the spread of germs, we recommend handwashing before eating or drinking, and frequently disinfecting shared surfaces in the home. Bathrooms, kitchens, door handles, shared toys and handheld devices like cell phones and tablets are heavy traffic areas for germs to spread.
2. Move around!
Getting your blood pumping regularly can increase the activity of white blood cells that attack viruses. Aim to move around for at least an hour throughout your day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park in a spot farther from the grocery store than you normally would. Play outside with your kids to get everyone moving. Moving your body throughout the day gets your blood flowing, decreasing your risk of contracting a virus.
3. Garlic Doesn't Just Keep the Vampires Away
The anti-microbial properties of this pungent bulb (and its relative, the onion) help boost your immune system to fight off bacteria and viruses. Other herbs and spices, like sage and thyme, can also aid in preventing colds and the flu because they are packed with antibacterial vitamins. Try adding them to your next bowl of soothing chicken soup!
4. Quality H2O
Thankfully, most of us are inhabiting cozy, warm homes this winter, but those cranking radiators come with a downside. Indoor winter air is much dryer than our bodies would like. It’s important to stay hydrated in the colder months to keep our immune system working properly to fight off bacteria and viruses. The American Heart Institute recommends drinking eight to twelve 8oz. glasses of water per day. It’s easy to forget to drink enough water in the winter, so set goals and reminders for yourself and your family.
While you’re off in dreamland, your body gets to work repairing cells and injuries from a normal day’s wear and tear. Seven to nine hours of sleep at night gives your body the rest it needs to repair and heal itself and ward off infections. Missing out on sleep is disruptive to the immune system and can have a huge impact on your health over time. Sticking to nightly routines and bedtimes is important for your family’s overall health and wellness.
6. Eat Your Greens (and Reds, and Yellows)
We all know fruits and veggies contain important vitamins that benefit our health. But did you know they also contain phytochemicals? "Phyto" means plants, and phytochemicals are the natural chemicals in plants that give vitamins a supercharged boost. So put away the vitamin pill, and instead eat plenty of dark green, red, and yellow veggies and fruits to help fight off viruses.
7. A Healthy, Happy Toothbrush
Yes, your toothbrush can prevent you from getting the flu… but many germs and viruses that cause the flu can be hiding inside your brush! The list below contains suggestions for happy, healthy toothbrushes for everyone in your family:
- Wash your hands before and after brushing your teeth, or someone else’s teeth. Have your children wash their hands, too.
- Set toothbrushes upright in a cup inside a bathroom cabinet (the bathroom is usually the most contaminated room in the house).
- Your toothbrush can hold onto your germs and infections. When you are ill, change your toothbrush so that you do not re-infect yourself. You can pick up the inexpensive economy packs of toothbrushes and change it daily. Once you are well you can go back to your cooler, state-of-the-art toothbrush if you wish.
- If you share a toothbrush holder, regularly clean and disinfect the holder. Ensure the brushes cannot touch each other.
Bacteria and germs are inevitable, but instilling these healthy habits in your family can help prevent the spread and contraction of sickly viruses. Avoid the sniffles this season, and instead enjoy all the exciting activities this season has to offer!
Disclaimer: This information has not been given by a healthcare professional. This information is based on research and information provided by healthcare sites and pamphlets. If your child is sick and needs medical assistance, please visit a healthcare clinic or professional. For emergencies, visit your closest hospital or dial 911.