Staying healthy during seasonal changes

As your family begins to prep for colder weather, you, like many people, may find yourself getting sick when the thermometer suddenly drops. This can happen for a number of reasons, but you are more likely to come down with a bug during early fall and early spring because that is when temperatures are perfect for a lot of the viruses that cause the common cold. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to boost your immune system so your body is ready to battle the fall colds, but you have to start now! Here are some tips:

  1. Wash your hands frequently: This one is pretty commonly known, but it is the gold standard for a reason. Washing your hands helps reduce the amount of time a virus you picked up at the pee-wee football game is on your body, reducing the risk of it taking you down. Wash your hands for at least thirty seconds, and be sure to get under your nails well.
  2. Cut out sugar: Studies have shown that not only does sugar suppress your immune system for hours after enjoying that soda, sugar also decreases your body’s ability to absorb vitamin C and other nutrients. You will be better able to fight off a ten-day cold if you just say no to that pumpkin
  3. Quit smoking: Every time you take a drag, you are damaging your lungs, which makes it hard for them to resist infection. Good, healthy lungs are much better able to fend off disease. Easier said than done, of course, but this is just the tip of the iceberg for health benefits, as you well know.
  4. Get enough sleep: Staying up late watching Netflix (guilty) may feel good at the moment, but when you are hacking away at your job because of a cold, you are going to regret watching that last episode of your latest binge. Getting to bed early for quality sleep (7-9 hours’ worth) is an enjoyable way to boost your metabolism and give your body the strength it needs to fight off fall colds.
  5. Reduce your stress: This is a big one. From getting more exercise to meditating or praying, there are a lot of things you can do to reduce your stress levels, and every one of them is going to make it easier for your body to fight back the viruses going around your office. Take a deep breath, go for a walk, talk with a good friend, or watch a funny movie that makes you laugh out loud – all of these will keep that cold away.
  6. Eat healthier: Junk food can have a lot of excess fat, which like sugar, can suppress the immune system. On the other hand, healthy foods can provide quality nutrition and boost your immune system, making it less likely you will be calling in sick tomorrow. Opt for healthy but yummy recipes rich in leafy greens, ginger, garlic, turmeric, red bell peppers, and citrus.
  7. Get a pet: Be sure before you choose this tip that you are financially able to care for a pet if they get sick, that you can handle a long-term commitment, and that you are ready to research pet nutrition thoroughly to determine how to keep your pet healthy. But if you are ready to take the plunge, studies have shown that having a pet can greatly reduce your risk of getting sick. They decrease your likelihood of allergies, they promote physical activity through walks and play time, increase social interactions, and they reduce stress. So head over to the animal shelter and save a pet today.

Simple lifestyle changes can promote good health regardless of the season. Talk to your Granger Medical Clinic physician about ways you can create healthy changes in your lifestyle.