Have you been holding your breath on the subway? Or snickering at anyone that coughs or sneezes within 15 feet of you? With the number of swine flu cases reported in the US, many of our clients are asking us for advice on how to stay healthy and avoid getting sick.
In addition to the obvious precautions like covering your nose and mouth when coughing so as not to spread germs, one promising preventative measure is boosting your immune system. This week, my team and I offer several immune-boosting lifestyle tips to keep you healthy. And please remember – it’s always important to see your doctor if you’re concerned about your health.
- Break a Sweat – Try and have a regular exercise regimen. Exercise not only makes our body stronger, but it also promotes a healthy immune system by lessening our susceptibility to disease. It’s the perfect de-stresser! Of course, if you’re feeling weak or have a fever, it’s always best to take a break from exercise and start up again once you’re feeling better.
- Filler Up! – Since water flushes your system and rehydrates you, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Aim for 6 to 8 cups daily. I always recommend trying to getting in the first liter (4 cups) by lunch. Also consider drinking green tea which contains polyphenols – a key ingredient believed to have strong anti-flu properties.
- 3-a-Day - Make sure to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day (and 1-2 snacks) instead of skipping meals. It is nearly impossible to have a balanced diet and meet all of your nutrient needs if you are only eating once or twice a day. And, unfortunately, skipping meals (like breakfast and lunch) and having a big dinner makes your intake ‘bottom heavy’, ultimately affecting your sleep quality and making you feel run down.
- Wash up! Since direct hand contact is one of the easiest ways to catch a bug, regular handwashing is a must (especially when someone who is sick is in close proximity to you). Make sure to wash your hands (with soap) constantly throughout the day and also make sure to clean your telephone receiver and computer keyboard with alcohol or disinfectant wipes on a regular basis.
- Rest up and get a full night’s sleep – Each person has different needs, but try and aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Lack of sleep has been linked to unbalanced hormone levels which can prevent you from shedding pounds and increase your chances of coming down with something. And trying to make up for missed hours the next night won’t work. It can take several days to catch up when you’re sleep deprived. Instead, try and make a habit of going to bed an hour earlier to improve your immune system and make you more prepared to fight something off.
- Fill your plate with fruits and vegetables – Help boost your immunity by providing your body with antioxidant-rich foods that can help protect your cells from damage by toxins in the environment. Vitamin C tops the list of immune-boosters and is a powerful antioxidant. Stock up on fruits and vegetables that are jam-packed with the vitamin, including red bell peppers, broccoli, kale, oranges, kiwis, papaya, mangos, strawberries and guava.
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