For many, winter is the favorite of the seasons. A crisp, chilly breeze flows through the air. The smell of fresh pine fills our noses, reminding us that Christmas is just around the corner. Winter is a time where the whole family gathers around to snuggle up to one another, embracing the cozy, nurturing environment.
Although many welcome the winter season with open arms, it could be a lot less agreeable to some. When winter’s in the air, the chances of catching a common cold or the flu rise dramatically. Unfortunately for those that catch one of these common illnesses, they are stuck in a rut over feeling terribly sick and end up forever associating winter with their sickness.
However, there’s no real scientific correlation between winter and sickness. It’s not the cold weather itself that brings on these illnesses, but rather, a person’s reaction to it. With a few changes to your attitude, habits, and actions, you can avoid getting sick during winter.
Here is a 5-step immunity-boosting guide that can help you avoid catching a cold or the flu, as well as avoid associating winter with sickness.
Embrace the Open Air
When the weather changes and gets colder, it’s common for most of us to want to stay indoors. However, being in close contact with others is generally where the germs pile up, and the sickness begins. The open, outdoor air around us tends to be higher in humidity, which is the best kind of air for us to breathe.
In dry, indoor air, particles emitted from sneezing break into smaller particles that are easier for others to inhale accidentally. The damper air of the outdoors cause these particles to become more intact, which is much more difficult for others to inhale or come in contact with.
To help balance out your indoor and outdoor time, you can buy a whole-house humidifier. A humidifier is great for blowing moist air into your home, raising your relative humidity, and improving your overall comfort.
Exercise is Essential
Daily exercise boosts your immune system in ways that you can’t imagine. Numerous studies have demonstrated that exercising regularly also decreases your chances of catching a cold or the flu. In fact, exercising approximately 4 or 5 days per week lowers the infection risk by almost 50%.
Make sure that you’re exercising regularly and staying hydrated. It helps to break up congestion if you’re already infected with a cold or flu, and it can even help to shorten your illness. People tend to underestimate the health benefits that exercise can have. It doesn’t just help you stay fit; it also helps you stay protected from common illnesses like the cold or flu.
Eat More Protein-Rich Foods
They say that you are what you eat, so it makes perfect sense that eating healthy foods will help you stay healthy. Never underestimate the importance of good nutrition. It helps your immunity system stay intact so that you can fight off unwanted viruses without even noticing.
Eat foods with plenty of natural vitamins & minerals, antioxidants, and protein. These foods will support your immunity system and digestive system. Foods that are high in protein, fiber, iron, and zinc are the best way to promote immunity and anti-inflammation.
Here are a few examples of good foods to eat to avoid getting sick during winter.
- Dried tart cherries
- Chia seeds
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Oily fish (salmon, tuna, & mackerel)
- Citrus fruits
- Red peppers
- Turkey breast
- Leafy greens
- Carrots & sweet potatoes
Take A Daily Dose of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an essential supplement for avoiding getting sick during winter. Because the winter months are in much shorter supply of sun exposure than other months during the year, we aren’t getting the same amount of vitamin D as our primary Vitamin D provider – the sun!
Taking vitamin D supplements or eating foods that are rich in Vitamin D will lower your chances of catching a cold or the flu by 70%. During the winter months, make sure that you’re spending time outdoors to catch as many rays as possible. To make up that time spent indoors, take a daily vitamin D supplement and eat Vitamin D-fortified foods.
Catch Z’s to Avoid Catching A Cold or Flu
Sleeping helps our bodies repair themselves for the days ahead. Sleep deprivation is one of the top likely causes of a lowered immune system and disease. Long-term lack of sleep can also increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Sleeping soundly through the night helps to improve your mood, energy levels, and focus during the day. Make sure that you’re getting plenty of good night’s sleep so that your body can feel rested and ready to tackle the day.
Remember The Basics
Cold and flu viruses are super sneaky. They maneuver their way into our homes any which way that they can. It’s essential to be wary of specific household contaminants and the germ breeding grounds that live all around us. Preventing colds and flu viruses is all about practicing healthy habits.
Make sure that you wash your hands regularly and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to kill germs at the source. The best way to avoid getting sick during winter is to keep germs as far away from you as possible, and that starts with your hands.
Also, remember to get your annual flu shot to decrease your chance of getting infected drastically. Practice all of the healthy habits mentioned in this article, and you will stay healthy for a lifetime.