Winter, viruses, colds and indoors all evoke sickness this time of year. If you are not sick of snow, then you are probably sick of not feeling your best this winter. As I sit around my table today, I’ll share 10 ways I stay healthy all year round.
Knock on wood, the bugs and sickness have not entered this house or my body this school year. Last year my son, didn’t even miss a day of school for sickness, and my worse sickness last year was the three days I fought off a cold.
1. Healthy foods and snacks.
Healthy foods consumed assist your body to fight off sickness. The body’s immune system is better at fighting viruses and invaders when it gets proper nutrition. This includes many fruits and vegetable.
As I talk to many people about their intakes/diet many adults tell me they don’t like or eat fruits and vegetables. They are missing out on antioxidants, phytochemicals, and vitamins and minerals our bodies use on a daily basis to keep healthy. If you don’t believe me, check out my blog on grapefruit, garden greens and tomatoes. You will see all the benefits they bring to your body.
Fruits and vegetables are loaded with Vitamin C, A, folate, K, Fiber, and minerals such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium to name a few. See this link for more nutrient information. Fruits and Vegetables. We should be getting about 3-5 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruit each day. Most Americans are short in both categories.
Just think 3 vegetables and 2 fruits to keep it simple and make it a goal each day.
2. Exercise 5-6 times per week.
Exercise helps your immune system by promoting good circulation in your blood and lungs. It also helps you get better sleep. Germs are flushed out of your system as you rev into exercise mode. It also helps release stress that can decrease our immune system. Have you ever gotten sick after a long stressful week? If not, then exercise may have helped you out.
Exercise also just makes you feel good because it releases endorphins in your brain, which can act as pain killers. I plan on exercising daily and if I miss once or twice a week then I am still good.
3. Take Probiotics daily.
Ten years ago I started taking probiotics because of the health benefits. I was convinced from research to try them since many of the foods they are in were not in my diet. My son had lactose intolerance and I had slight IBS. We tried probiotics and within three months they made a difference.
Since then there has been more research on probiotics and its benefits to many areas of the body. I believe probiotics have helped my immune system.
Probiotics are the good bacteria your gut wants. You can find probiotics in yogurts, kefir, fermented foods and kombucha. Research has shown that the flora/biota in your gut takes on your environment, the people and animals you live with and the food you put in your stomach.
Prebiotics also work in conjunction with probiotics and come from the fiber we eat in fruits and vegetables. The probiotic I take is from Melaleuca. If you are interested in more about Melaleuca. See this link.
4. Drink green and herbal teas daily.
Drink green and herbal teas daily. My recent blog on Tea covers the health benefits of drinking Tea. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants which again help the immunes system and revs up the metabolism to do its work in the body. Its also helps in cancer prevention. So why not?
I would add drinking enough water in your diet. If you drink too much caffeine in coffee or tea, you may become more dehydrated than you planned. Plan for at least 6 cups of water each day too.
5. Drink coffee daily.
Ok, I wouldn’t overdo this one. I may be pushing it. Too much and you may not be getting enough of your other nutrients. But Coffee has many polyphenols which help with many long term diseases like cancer, heart disease, and neurological diseases. Too much caffeine from coffee can lead to other problems, like lack of sleep. Keep your water intakes up too.
6. Take vitamin D supplement or get in the sunshine.
This vitamin can only come from the sun and foods sources such as salmon, eggs and fortified milk and cereal. When winter comes or you just don’t get outside, then you run low on this important vitamin. Vitamin D does help boost your immune system and mood.
I started taking Vitamin D3 about 10 years ago in the winter since I knew there was no sunshine for half the year in Minnesota. I got my blood checked for my vitamin D levels in August one year. I was not taking the supplement then. My levels were “good” my Dr said. They were 32 ng/ml and the deficient number is less than 30 ng/ml, 30-39 ng/mg is adequate, 40-59 ng/mg is optimal.
If my levels were 32 ng/ml in the summer then I am sure they would be low in the winter. I started myself and kids on Vitamin D in the winter and noticed they were not getting sick as much as other kids around them. Many studies show vitamin D also helps with the prevention of colon cancer.
RDA for Vitamin D is 600 IUs and 800 IUs if you are over 70 years old. A multivitamin contains about 400 IUs. Talk to your Dr about how much you need. Mayoclinic.com says vitamin D helps your immune system become stronger for fighting off infection.
7. Wash your hands.
This seems common sense but how many of you are remembering to wash your hands at the most important time? I wash my hands when I walk in the door of my home. The germs stop there. Most of the time I have been around coworkers, strangers and all kinds of germs.
If I were to rub my eyes or touch my mouth or nose with unwashed hands it makes for a great host to a virus. Wash hands before meals, after going to the restroom, before handling food and multiple times of day will also help reduce illness too.
8. Spend time with God.
Reading your bible and praying are great ways to boost your immune system. If you are stressed out, take your troubles to God or find a verse to think or meditate on. God’s word is like medicine to the spirit. If you are stressed, you don’t fight off sickness as well. Its all a matter of a sound mind and spirit.
9. Connect with people.
It’s not good to be alone. When we are alone, we become isolated and our brains can’t be used to full protentional. We need people to activate our brains, help us with our emotions and bring Joy to our life. Spending too much time alone has shown to cause depression and health problems. One bad habit can lead to another bad habit.
This is my favorite one. We are sleepers in this house. Most people need 7-9 hours of sleep a night and kids and teenagers need up to 8-11 hours of sleep. The best way to fight off any sickness is restful sleep. If you are tossing and turning all night, you are not at your best sleep.
Try to make sleep a priority and use an app to determine how much sleep you need or record your sleep on paper to find out what is normal for you and stick to it all week. Make sure you cut out screen time prior to bed so you can fall asleep. Daylight Saving time changes always messes my sleep up.
Extra: One you may not be able to prevent.
I was sick more when my kids were little and they were developing their own immune system. They deprived me of sleep and every single one of the list above. I have been less sick the older my kids have gotten and the smarter I have been about preventing sickness and taking care of myself.
All of these things can keep you at your best and reduce sickness. Strive for a better you and make some changes to prevent sickness. In the long term, these tips will give you more vitality and health.
How do you stay healthy all year long?
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