Prevent Winter Colds and Flu. With the winter season upon us, so is the increase in seasonal colds and flu infections. When the temperature drops, it seems like every person around you suddenly starts coughing, sneezing, and having difficulty breathing properly. You’re definitely not imagining it, and instead of letting it be and dealing with it because “it’s the season,” it’s time to be more proactive and prevent winter colds and the flu.
Even though viral and bacterial infections are often impossible to completely prevent all winter season, there are some powerful habits you can implement into your daily routine that can help strengthen your immune system and keep you protected as much as it’s humanely possible in the given situation.
They are not magical and probably won’t help if your child sneezes on you or you’re stuck in an airplane with a person who can’t stop coughing sitting right next to you, but they’ll help you in the long run and keep your immune system running at its optimal level so you’re better equipped at fighting whatever comes your way. Here are some of the best tips to prevent winter colds and unpleasant flu symptoms.
1. Nutrients, Nutrients, Nutrients
The importance of a nutrient-rich diet is never more essential than in situations when the risk of infection is high. Your body thrives when supplied with vitamins, minerals, and other powerful plant compounds that have a strong and beneficial effect on all of your body’s systems. Some nutrients, like vitamin C and vitamin D, are directly linked to a stronger immune response and your body’s ability to fight infections and other harmful pathogens. This is the season to stuff your plate with citrus fruits, pomegranate, camu camu powder, and start considering supplements to support your healthy diet.
2. Consider Supplements
Even though supplements aren’t exactly crucial for a healthy lifestyle, the winter season only offers a small variety of seasonal foods with a limited amount of nutrients. Additionally, some micronutrients like vitamin D are mostly obtained from the sun or other sources that aren’t as abundant in the winter months. This is where smart decisions around supplementation might make a huge difference in your body’s ability to fight diseases.
If you’re looking into adding beneficial supplements to your diet, consider vitamin D, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics that help replenish your gut microbiome with beneficial bacteria to support your gut health and with it, strengthen your immune response.
3. Stay Away from Processed Foods and Sugars
Staying away from foods that only contribute to inflammation isn’t news, but the importance of cleaning up your diet is even more pronounced come the flu season. When the risk of getting whatever the person next to you is sneezing for is high, choose the vegetable-rich item on your menu instead of the french fries.
Not only are these types of food weakening your immune system and causing inflammation that overwhelms your body, but they are directly linked to some of the most severe diseases like diabetes and cancer that can have grave and irreparable effects on your overall health.
4. Avoid or Limit Alcohol and Smoking
In addition to junk food and sugars, it’s important to abstain from other lifestyle habits that only worsen the inflammation in your body and make it harder for your immune system to fight off toxins, viruses, bacteria, and other damage-causing pathogens. Alcohol and smoking are two of the most common unhealthy habits people still succumb to. Make it your mission to either avoid them completely or at least limit them to the bare minimum so you give your body a chance to fight the winter infections.
5. Focus on Hydration
Another aspect of your daily life you should pay more attention to is proper hydration. Our bodies are mostly made of water and it plays an essential role in every single process and function. When we’re dehydrated, we’re susceptible to inflammation and infections as our immune system isn’t capable of dealing with every attack, and our digestive system cannot properly process food and absorb the necessary nutrients.
Keep a water bottle with you at all times, make it a habit to drink a glass of water first thing in the morning, and increase your awareness of your daily hydration habits. The “8 glasses a day” rule has long been overthrown. Listen to your body and if you need it, drink up!
6. Spend Time in Nature
There’s a good reason why you oftentimes feel better after spending some time in nature. Your lungs fill with oxygen, your blood circulation improves, and your body increases its own ability to absorb nutrients and send them to every single cell in your body. Not to mention, it helps lower your stress levels and with it, inflammation.
This winter season, make it your mission to spend more time outdoors. Go for longer walks, take up hiking, breathe in some fresh air, and enjoy the season for all that it has to offer.
7. Improve Your Sleep Quality
When you sleep, your body performs all the most important processes of repair, recharging, and recovery. Sleep deprivation only contributes to higher levels of stress and inflammation that have a detrimental effect on your overall health and well-being, decreasing your body’s ability to fight off diseases and infections.
Focus on implementing better sleeping habits by reducing your stress levels before bed, removing technology and gadgets from your bedroom, staying away from blue light-emitting screens at least two hours before bed, abstaining from late-night dinners, and ensuring your bedroom is dark and comfortable, so you wake up feeling well-rested and recharged.
8. Increase Your Physical Activity
Regular exercise, whether in the form of walks and light jogging or intense runs and yoga has a tremendous and positive effect on your health, longevity, and overall infection-fighting ability. Exercise helps improve your blood circulation, enhance nutrient absorption, flush out toxins from your body, lower your stress and inflammation, and even improve your digestion.
Make it your mission to move your body a bit more this winter season and help your immune system stay alert and active, ready to fight whatever might threaten to harm you.
9. Lower Your Stress Levels
Stress directly weakens your immune system and chronic stress can make it hard for your body to fight even the least intense colds, let alone something more severe and serious. Implementing good habits to lower your stress levels should be something you need to focus on every day of your life, but even more so when there are viruses and bacteria lurking from every corner.
Find some de-stressing techniques that work for you and your life and focus on adding them to your regular weekly, if not daily routine. Meditate, listen to music, take up journaling, read a book, get regular deep tissue massages, or simply fill up a bathtub with warm water and soak for 20 minutes. Whatever works for you, do it. Just stay consistent.
10. Implement Other Smart Habits
And last, but not least, there are other smart habits you can add to your lifestyle routine that can have a positive effect on your health and well-being. These include regular or infrared sauna sessions, cryotherapy, lymphatic drainage massages, and even wearing a mask in situations where there are way too many people and your anxiety starts climbing with every other person sneezing and coughing.
Implement these smart and fairly easy healthy lifestyle changes this winter season and give your immune system support and a necessary boost to fight off the winter colds and the seasonal flu.