As I regularly reference the importance of mental heath, sometimes I forget to mention the importance of physical health. During the months of October and November, flu influenza begins to strike our society, but according to the CDC, the peaks of the flu influenza occurs during the months of December until February. It is important year-round to be taking care of your physical health, but it is especially important during these times of the year to be taking the best care of yourself possible.
Prioritizing physical health is a life hack that should never be left on the back burner, as it can serve as consequential in the long run. Germs, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc., exist everywhere, and our bodies have no choice but to encounter them. Of course, there are good bacteria that exist in our intestines, assisting us with collecting both nutrients and wastes. Bad bacteria, however, can cause things, such as ear infections, sore throats, strep throat, and cavities. The ironic thing about bacteria is that sometimes it is used in vaccines, which are used to prevent the onset of the sickness.
Viruses, on the other hand, exist just to make us sick and all of them are bad. The onset of a virus may be sudden, and examples of viruses include the flu. Generally, viruses last a short amount of time, but symptoms can be more severe than a common cold.
Ways to healthy this flu-season include:
- Wash your hands – This one is pretty cliché, but still very important. Hand washing prevents the spread of bacteria from one indivudal to another individual, as it is the top way that many sicknesses and germs are spread. Carry around hand sanitizer and try to be aware of what you are making contact with; there is no need to be overtly paranoid, but individuals not washing their hands is the number one way that others get infected. Especially during the flu season, try to use hot water and soap, and run your hands under the water for at least a minute.
- Exercise – Exercise allows for change in our antibodies and white blood cells, which are our body’s immune system that allow for our bodies to fight diseases. While we are exercising and after exercising, individual’s experience a large surge of body temperature, which in some cases, assists in the prevention of bacterial growth. Though we may not feel up to exercising, some form of exercise expediates the symptoms that you are feeling and may end up helping you feel better. It is important to help build your immune system, so stop preventing yourself from the good life.
- Brush Your Teeth – According to a study conducted by Yale University, one of the best way to prevent diseases like pneumonia is to practice excellent oral hygiene, and brush your teeth. According to general information, bacterial infections of the chest and lungs originate in our mouth. These bacterial infections of the chest generally develop into respitory illness, so in order to stay happy and healthy, make your oral hygiene a daily priority. A healthy oral hygienic routine includes brushing your teeth thoroughly for a minimum of eight minutes and flossing regularly.
One life hack that always seems to work for me when fighting off any sickness is gargling warm water and salt. Sounds nasty, right? Well, the warm water and salt actually serves to get all the bacteria and germs out of your mouth, cleansing your mouth and your throat of all those nasty germs. Give it a try!
- Don’t Share – One of the easiest ways to contract a sickness is by sharing drinks, food, utensils (fork and knives), straws, etc. This allows for direct contact with germs from other people, putting you at risk for sickness. Just think, “virally-infected saliva,” which is not the most pleasing image to have in your mind. Kindly decline sharing, especially during the flu season, and try sharing something more like a funny anecdote instead of germs.
- Water – You have probably heard this one a few too many times, as staying hydrated is an important way to beat the common flu, or cold. This is generally an important rule of thumb, as certain sicknesses could cause rapid water loss. Similarly, in situations where you may have a fever, a sudden rise in body temperature, can lead your body to become dehydrated. In general, when you are plagued with sickness, you also have low energy, so the H2O helps with giving your body enough energy to combat the sickness.
- Vitamin D – Sun exposure, or better-known as Vitamin D, is important in the strengthening of your immune system, among other things. Not only does it help support and strengthen the immune system, but it also helps with strengthening lung function, as well as our cardiovascular health. While Vitamin D is labeled a vitamin, it is actually considered a pro-hormone, meaning that our body can only synthesize it when one makes contact with the sun. Vitamin D is overall breaks down very quickly, so during flu season, or the winter, our Vitamin D levels can be low, making it a top priority that we get sun exposure. Spending at least 20 minutes outside in the sun, at least 2-4 times a day, is said to be a sufficient amount of Vitamin D for one person. But, keep in mind, according to a study, those who made sure to spend at least 20 minutes in the sun, at least 2-4 times a day, said to have reduced infection of influenza by 40%!
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C is an antioxidant that the body injests assists in keeping your body strong and healthy. It is needed for the maintenance of the our bones, muscles and blood cells, and it helps absorbs iron. In a study in July 2007, a study was released depicting that Vitamin C could reduce the “frequency, duration, or severity of a cold” (WebMd). You can Vitamin C in the form of juices, vitamin tablets (both chewable or swallowable tablets), and cough drops.
- Zinc – Zinc plays a powerful and important role in our bodies, once we injest it. Zinc services to stop the growth of bacteria and virsuses, while simultaneously assisting in shorterning the effects of the sickness. Injesting foods, such as pumpkin seeds, spinach, beans and nuts, all can help the multiplication of bacteria or virsuses that you may encounter. Zinc can also be injested in the form of a vitamin tablet, either way, keep your zinc close to you. This is a very powerful immunity boosting supplement.
- Diet Smart – Dieting smart goes without saying, especially during the flu season. What you eat plays an enormous role in strength of your immune system, and therefore, its capabilities. Your body needs the correct nutrients, and enough of them, in order to maintain it’s health and keep healthy immune functions. Foods, such as beans, eggs, chicken and turkey provide good sources of protien, which is essential for the body. In regards to fruits and vegetables, avocados, bell peppers, kale, and sweat potatoes are foods that can be categorized as nutrient-dense foods, which all help to service maintaining healthy immune fuctions.
- Take It Easy – While making sure you are exercising is important, stress and overactivity can make one prone to sickness, illness and viruses. You would be surprised how much of a toll overworking yourself and stressing yourself out can do on weakening your immune system. Make sure you are taking care of yourself, by finding a happy balance and healthy way to manage your stressors and obligations. Similarly, if you are already sick, added stress can make your symptoms much worse. It is best to be in the most relaxed state-of-mind, when dealing with your illness.
- Clean Your Sheets – You spend a significant time on your bed, and even if you don’t, your germs are all over your sheets. Every night, you breathe germs onto your sheets, and depending on the person, you may sweat all over your sheets during the night. If you are already sick, you have most certainly been sweating and breathing all your germs directly onto your sheets, making it a priority to change and launder your sheets and pillow cases. Plus, who doesn’t love sleeping in a clean, fresh bed, anyways?
- Stock Up on Advil, or Ibuprofen, or cold/flu Relieving Medication – Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen, Advil, or Aleve, are great to help relieve flu and cold symptoms. Having these around your house can make your life a lot easier, as they tend to kick aches, pains, and fever symptoms that you may encounter. These drugs do not necessarily make the sickness go away, but they can make your whole world a lot easier and make the whole process much easier to handle.
- Ginger – Meet the greatest thing in the entire world…Ginger. Ginger carries so many health benefits that daily consumption helps more than just the immune system. To begin with, ginger is an antibacterial and also serves as an anti-inflammatory, all in one. Ginger can be consumed in many different forms, including naturally, in teas, pickled, and in different meals. Investing some of your diet towards ginger can serve lifelong benefits for you, beyond your physical imagination. Also, if you are ever feeling nauseous from a cold, a flu, or just in general, ginger works great as an anti-naseua, as it helps calms down any of those feelings.
- Tea – There are a variety of teas that exist and many of them carry health benefits that also can help you with your physical health upkeep. Tea is great, especially when you’re sick, because the aromatherapy from consuming the steaming herbs soothes any irritation you may be experiencing in your lungs or sinus. Similarly, “the properties the hot water extracts from the herbs help support your immune system, calm an upset stomach and break up congestion in your nose and chest” (healthfree.com/). Many different types of teas contain different benefits when they are consumed, and most certainly, help build one’s immune system stronger. Try incorporating some great herbal teas, green teas, white teas, or even black teas into your daily routine!
- Soup – Soup is great, especially chicken noodle soup, which can serve as an anti-inflammatory, working to soothe your symptoms. According to recent speculations and studies, soup has been found to reduce cold or flu symptoms, while simultaneously strengthening our immune system. Apparently, these studies show that soup does a better job than hot water or cold water. The science behind it is that the steam from the soup can assist sinus inflammation and assist in soothing the throat, and depending on the soup, the salt from the soup can possibly help with hydrating your body.
- Get Your Vaccinations – This is a controversial topic, but getting your vaccines are the most fullproof way to prevent getting sick this flu season. When you get the flu, your body is able to build antibodies, specifically to ward off the specific illness, making it much less likely you will encounter that illness again. There are many facilities that offer free flu shot services, or flu shot services in general. In order to prevent the full-blown sickness, get your vaccinations and stay healthy this season!
- Sleep – This one is an obvious one, sleep, in general, has a positive effect on our immune system. Sleep allows for your body to fight off the infection, illness, or virus that you are encountering. Studies have shown that those who are well-rested have a higher chance of avoiding infection, illness, or a virus, and if encountered by the illness, those who are well-slept tend to get over the illness much quicker. Ignoring your body’s needs is the last thing you should be doing, and you never should ignore your body’s signs, especially if you are feeling weak and tired. Allow your body the rest it needs, in order to heal from the sickness ASAP.
According to scientists and researchers, this flu influenza season (2017-2018) is anticipated to be a “bad one,” so it does not hurt to be prepared. There have already been eight recorded deaths, due to the flu influenza. Do not undermine the concern, as the flu can truly become deadly for young children and adults, alike. Keep yourself healthy and do your best to take as many preventitive steps, in order to avoid any sickness or illness this season!
You are happiest when you are healthiest 🙂 Let’s stay #FLUSTRONG this season!