Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cold and Flu Season Survival Guide: 10 Easy Steps

Got to be on point during the grizzly

by Janelle Sorensen

'Tis the season of sniffles, sneezes, fevers, and flu. And, this year brings an epidemic that has every parent on high alert. At my house, we're in the midst of virus cycle number one and I just pulled out the vaporizer for the first time of the season. As my daughter and I waited for the little engine to warm up after months of sitting idly in the basement, we spoke glumly about how much we despise the string of illness and misery fall and winter inevitably brings. This winter we are fighting back, and you can too. Keep your family in tip-top shape by following these easy tips.

1. Get plenty of Zzzzz
Studies show that sleep deprivation can make you more susceptible to illness by reducing the number of cells in your body dedicated to fighting things like microbes. The average adult needs about 6-8 hours of sleep. A newborn may need up to 18 hours a day, toddlers require 12 to 13 hours, and preschoolers need about 10 hours. If your child doesn't nap, try putting him or her to bed earlier.

2. Bust a family move
Exercising increases your sickness-fighting cells. Get the whole family in the habit of exercising together to improve your health and to enjoy some quality time together. Try walking, hiking, biking, yoga, or just crank up some fun music and have a dance-off.

3. Engage in germ warfare
Make sure everyone washes their hands often with soap. Ditch the antibacterials because research shows plain soap is just as effective. Sing the ABC's while vigorously lathering palms, between fingers, around nail beds, and the backs of hands. Pay particular attention to hand hygiene before and after each meal, after playing outside, using the bathroom, handling pets, blowing noses, and after being anywhere in public.

When you're out and about, carry non-toxic wipes or hand sanitizer with you for quick cleanups. Check out CleanWell's plant-based, biodegradable products, All Terrain Hand Sanz Fragrance Free Antiseptic Hand Sanitizer, or EO Hand Sanitizer.

If someone in the family gets sick, keep his toothbrush separate from everyone else's. Give it a good soak in boiling water or run it through the dishwasher after the illness isn't contagious anymore to get rid of any lingering germs or viruses.

Wash your hand towels in hot water every three or four days during cold and flu season.

Sneeze and cough into your arm or a tissue. Coughing into your hands puts the germs right where you can spread them to any object (or person) you touch.


4. Drink up
You have probably heard how important it is to drink plenty of fluids when you are ill, but it's just as important for preventing illness. Adequate hydration keeps the tissues of the respiratory system moist, which prevents microbes from settling in. Hydration also helps the immune system work properly. Opt for fresh, filtered water.

5. Air out
Open a window or two in your home just a crack for a few minutes each day. You'll let out indoor air pollutants that may be stressing your immune systems as well as chase away germs.

6. Keep it cool
An overheated home promotes dry air, the perfect environment for viruses to thrive. And when your mucous membranes (i.e., nose, mouth, and tonsils) dry out, they can't trap those germs very well. Lowering the heat in your house 5 degrees and using a room humidifier helps maintain a healthier level of humidity in the winter. Buy a hygrometer to measure humidity and keep your home at around 50 percent.

7. Relax
Declare a family time out each day. During these few minutes have everyone close their eyes, breathe deep, and think happy. Meditation reduces stress. Reduced stress means less susceptibility to illness.

8. Pump up with produce
Carrots, kiwis, raisins, green beans, oranges, strawberries: they all contain such immunity-boosting phytonutrients as vitamin C and carotenoids. Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, are good sources of betacarotene and help protect against free-radical damage. They also contain vitamin C and calcium. Try to get your child to eat five servings of fruits and veggies a day. Eat at least half of them raw and when you do cook them, be careful not to overcook. Overcooking destroys the immune enhancing properties. Learn more about feeding your immune system.

9. Go easy on the sweets
Sugar makes the body acidic, just the way pathogens like it (they thrive on sugar). So especially during cold and flu season, reduce sugar intake (that includes corn syrup and HFCS, as well).

10. Take a supplement
According to Dr. Alan Greene, "most kids today do NOT get the micronutrients they need from what they eat. Not by a long shot. By some estimates, only 2% of kids regularly eat the recommended number of servings of different food groups. A daily multivitamin/mineral is more than just a safety net for occasional nutritional shortages, it is an important tool to support healthy growth and a healthy life for your child." Talk to your physician about your child's specific nutritional needs and check out Dr. Greene's Nutritional Supplements.

2 comments:

Healthy Child Healthy World said...

This article originally appeared on Healthy Child Healthy World's website - visit www.healthychild.org for more information.

Healthy Child is a nonprofit organization that inspires parents to protect children from harmful chemicals.

Synaura said...

Winter season is also a season of flu. Taking vaccine is not the only way to resist it but boosting the immune system. Taking food supplement that consists of all essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can help our body to defend viruses. Plus, eating nutritious food and taking regular workout should be part of the routine.