Hello Autumn, Goodbye Germs!
11 ways to give your health a boost
The official first day of Autumn is behind us, and many parts of the world are still enjoying sunny, warm days. But, there is no question that cold weather, darker days and longer nights will soon be here. This article will show some simple things we all can do to help our bodies adjust to the changing environment. We all know that the best defense against infection is to avoid getting sick in the first place. But is that humanly possible for those of us who don’t live in a germ-free bubble?
Here are some simple targets to hit each week to keep you healthy, or help you recuperate if you’ve been sick or had a recent surgery. Following these tips may help to protect us in the long, dark, and germy cold and flu season.
- Wash your hands frequently
Keeping your hands clean by washing with warm water and soap is key to staying healthy in the colder months. Although many people prefer to use antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers, rubbing your hands and fingers under warm, running water using a mild soap and seems to work just as well. Remember to wash for at least 60-90 seconds and dry with a clean towel or air dryer.
- Get plenty of sleep
Health professionals recommend 7-8 hours of sleep, as well as going to bed at the same time each night. Our bodies regenerate best when well-rested, so don’t underestimate the power of sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep, try not eating within one hour of bedtime, no caffeine or alcohol in evening, or read in bed (no images or photos because they can stimulate the brain!) to tire your eyes and mind.
- Drink lots of water and herbal tea
Clean water and non-caffeinated teas should be your “go to” beverages of the season. Try adding mint, cucumber, citrus fruit, cinnamon or ginger to water. Or make your own herbal infusion using organic orange slices, chunks of ginger, and a bundle of fresh mint (Tip: drink from a glass mug because this infusion looks as good as it tastes)!
- Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables
If you struggle to find ways to get more balance in your diet, try adding one good fruit or veggie choice to each meal. Apples, clementine, grapes, bell peppers and carrots are full of vitamins and great packable treats for people who are on the go. A warm bowl of vegetable soup will go a long way in satisfying your hunger and adding important nutrients to your diet. In autumn, pumpkin, broccoli, and classic vegetable soup are excellent choices – try adding spinach, kale or cabbage for added C! Ideally, you should eat a green salad as part of your main meal each day.
- Add some spice to your life
Experiment with flavor-enhancing herbs and spices like rose salt, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, curry, onions, cayenne or turmeric. Just think, an extra clove of garlic may keep those who are sick away from you all together.
- Increase vitamin C
“An apple a day” is a good start, but citrus fruits loaded with vitamin C are even better! Try a pink grapefruit for breakfast or as dessert is a refreshing choice. Other great food sources of vitamin C include berries, citrus, kiwi, bell peppers, and dark green vegetables.
- Exercise or meditate
Making sure that you have regular exercise (especially in the fresh, Fall time air) is always a great way increase your defenses against germs and other bacteria, which cause colds and flus. Simple changes like reaching a 10,000 steps per day goal or meditating for 5-10 minutes before you go to sleep or first thing in the morning will help your mind and body stay healthy and fit.
- Laugh it up or chill out
A person’s mood plays an important part in overall physical and mental health. People who are happy are known to come down with a cold or flu less than those who are stressed out or depressed. Remember to take time to enjoy life – alone or with friends or family. There are lots of ways to easily take some time out and relax. Watch a funny sitcom or movie, take a warm bath or shower with some calming, aromatic soaps, play classical music while cooking or cleaning, call a friend or family member just to say hello.
- Don’t forgot vitamins D and E
Vitamin D is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” is actually a pro-hormone, because it can be synthesized by the human body with exposure to sunlight. Among other health benefits, vitamin D supports the health of the immune system and has been shown to reduce the risk of influenza by 40%. Whereas, vitamin E encourages the body's cell renewal while strengthening the cells that fight infection. Consider vitamin E an added weapon to fight off bacteria and other viruses. Good sources of E are found in almonds, avocado, eggs, kiwi fruit, milk, nuts, green vegetable leaves (kale!), wheat germ, and whole-grains.
- Eliminate (or reduce) caffeine and alcohol
There are studies which show the benefits of minimal amounts of caffeine and alcohol in the adult diet, however there are just as much research highlighting the negative effects. Too much alcohol or caffeine can decrease our immune system’s ability to fight infections and its natural way of removing damaged or abnormal cells. Cutting out (or down on) your intake of caffeine and alcohol helps promote a healthy immune system.
- Say yes to probiotics and say no to antibiotics
Probiotics –found in yoghurt, miso, kefir, pickles, kimchee, sauerkraut, some cheeses -- are living micro-organisms that are beneficial and crucial for good intestinal health. When your body’s digestive system is in proper working condition, germs have less of a fighting chance to overwhelm your immune system. In short, it’s a natural antibiotic and all these “good germs” in your digestive tract boosts your overall immunity, since 80% of your immunity power actually lives in your stomach
Antibiotics, on the other hand, destroy the body’s natural gut ecosystem and thereby its immunity, making it harder to fight infection naturally. Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections and should be taken as a last measure against a bacterial illness – and only in consultation with your doctor.
Are you ill more than 4 times per year?
Less is more. The average healthy adult should generally not have more than 2-4 colds or flus per year, this estimate varies widely. Women, especially in the age group 20 to 30, tend to get more colds than men, which may have more to do with their higher level of contact with children. And seniors (people older than 60) seem to have fewer than one cold each year. Consult your healthcare provider before trying these tips. If you fall outside of this general range, speak with your doctor about ways to boost your immune system before cold and flu season starts.
 In a medical study, children were given 1,200 International Units of vitamin D daily for 4 months in winter, reducing their risk of influenza A infection by over 40 percent.