I am honored, today, to have the chance to share a guest post with you from David Novak at Healthline.com. For a number of reasons I’m not a huge fan of flu shots, so I’m always looking for sound advice about alternative ways to keep my family healthy during this season and David has some great tips. I hope you find this information useful. – Elizabeth
Like it or not, there’s no sure-fire cure for the common cold or flu. Once you get it, you have to live with it. There are, however, some natural remedies and strategies you can employ in your life to drastically reduce the risk of getting these illnesses during the winter months, and these preventative steps can save you a lot of money and misery.
Being proactive about fighting flu and colds is not just good for helping you avoid getting ill, but it can also make your life a whole lot healthier, all the time. The below suggestions are fantastic lifestyle changes in general, whether you’re sick or not.
This year, many people will be getting their annual flu shot, and certainly this method is fairly effective and the most popular. But if you would rather avoid the needle this year, there are equally effective and natural treatments to help you avoid colds and flu. Follow the below strategies for lowering your risk of contracting colds and influenza, as well as ensuring good overall health all year around:
1. Stop Smoking and Excessive Drinking
We’ve heard for years that smoking is bad for your health, and it’s no joke. According to statistics, heavy smokers get more severe and frequent colds and flus than non-nicotine users. Even exposing yourself to secondhand smoke significantly takes a toll on the immune system because smoke dries out your nasal passages and paralyzes cilia — delicate hairs that line the mucous membranes in your nose and lungs.
Cilia sweep cold and flu viruses out of the nasal passages, and without them, even one cigarette can paralyze cilia for as long as an hour. That window of time is just enough to contract a nasty cold or flu. Heavy smoking can also dry out your adrenal glands, so it’s best to cut back or quit altogether. Besides saving your lungs and boosting your immune system, you’ll enjoy a much healthier life, free from worse conditions like stroke, lung cancer and emphysema.
Consuming alcohol is not any better, and consuming a lot of alcohol can suppress the immune system in several ways. Heavy drinkers are more prone to initial infections as well as secondary complications. Alcohol also dehydrates the body, and can cause you to lose more fluids from your system than you take in. Fluids are great for preventing colds and flu bugs, and without fluids, you are more prone to contracting these illness, as well as others. Significantly reducing your alcohol consumption will help you avoid these ailments, specifically influenza and the common cold.
Diet and Exercise
Eating right is an extremely important, proactive and effective approach to reducing the risk of flu and colds, and can sometimes prevent them altogether. Phytochemicals in vegetables and some fruits are those natural chemicals that give you the vitamins in food a supercharged boost. Eating dark green, red, and yellow vegetables and fruits have been proven to nourish the body significantly, which supports your immune system and fights off flus and colds. Additionally, foods rich in antioxidants like sweet potatoes and kiwi can battle free-radicals, which also contribute to disease and illness.
Besides eating right, exercise and fitness is a supreme warrior against viral adversaries. Specifically, aerobic exercise speeds up the heart to pump larger quantities of blood, which in turn, facilitates you breathing faster to help transfer oxygen from your lungs to your blood. Exercise also makes you sweat, and sweating helps eliminate viral toxins and increases the body’s natural virus-killing cells.
Stop Your Worrying
Worrying about illness can actually create illness. Conversely, relaxing about ailments can actually boost your immune system. Stress attacks your immune system and causes it to weaken, making you more susceptible to flu and colds. If you can teach yourself to relax and reduce your stress levels, there is evidence that suggests that relaxation boosts interleukins into your bloodstream, leaders in the immune system response against cold and flu viruses.
Train yourself to relax through various relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation. Other methods include a massage, acupuncture or a hot shower/bath. Those who can relax will change their blood chemicals, and reduce the risk of catching a cold or flu bug. Try to incorporate some of these relaxation methods. You’ll be shocked at the difference they make, including lowering the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and hypertension.
Scrub Those Paws of Yours
If you are constantly getting sick, there may be a reason for this. Influenza and other cold-like conditions are usually delivered and spread through human contact. When someone with the flu sneezes onto his hand and then touches an object, these germs can live for hours on that object, only to be picked up by the next person who touches it. Using hand sanitizer or washing your hands often kills those surface germs, and is an effective way to reduce the amount of spreadable germs.
Cold and flu viruses enter your body through the eyes, mouth and nose. Touching your face is a primary way people catch colds, and it is also a common way people pass them along to others. So try to avoid touching your face, or use a tissue.
Cold and flu germs also cling to bare hands. Coughing and sneezing in your hands can often result in transferring your germs to others. When you feel a sneeze or cough coming, use the inside of your elbow or a tissue to muffle it, instead of your hands.
You’re Not Completely Immune
These suggestions don’t completely guarantee that you’ll be immune from flu and colds this season, but these tactics may significantly decrease the chances of you contracting germs, which cause these illnesses. A simple and conscious awareness that germs are all around you, as well as practicing these type of prevention methods might just save you from another round of the aches, pains and sniffles this cold and flu season. So try these suggestions out because you may find that you won’t get sick as often, and you also might benefit from a happier and healthier life for the long haul.
David Novak writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column and has appeared on TV, radio and magazines, such as Reader’s Digest, USA Today, Newsweek, the Today Show, the Paul Harvey Show and the CBS Morning Show. David writes about health, diet and fitness, and is a regular contributing editor for Healthline. For more information, visit http://www.healthline.com/.
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