health + we l l n e s s JANUARY / F E B R UARY 2 0 1 4 43 Living Your Best (Napa Valley) Life by Dr. sharon ufberg, D.C. But getting sick is not a given. You don’t need to submit to the inevitability of winter sniffles or January days spent in bed. There are actually proven ways you can help protect yourself from catching a cold or flu. (And just in case: I’m also going to share a good home remedy to relieve your symptoms should you get sick despite your best efforts to stay well.) While both cold and flu are respiratory illnesses, keep in mind a cold is less severe than the flu, usually starts with a scratchy, sore throat and is accompanied by a runny or stuffy nose. The flu may include one or a combination of the following symptoms: body aches, fever, extreme fatigue, headache and a dry cough. The flu usually lasts longer than a simple cold, and may lead to more serious health issues such as pneumonia or other infections. Avoiding a flu or cold is all about elevating your immune system— and here are some simple ways to do it: 1. Get some daily exercise and keep moving. Studies show that people who exercise even moderately, such as walking several times per week, have fewer episodes of the flu or colds. 2. Wash your hands more often. I know this may sound simple, but most of the colds and viruses we catch could be avoided by lots more hand washing and less face touching. Always wash your hands before you eat, and try to avoid touching your eyes or nose. People on average touch their faces sixteen times per hour, so keep washing your hands with soap and warm water throughout your day. This is one of the best ways to protect yourself from getting sick. Hand sanitizing gel should be used sparingly and only when the real thing—soap and water— is unavailable. 3. Eat more fruits and vegetables. While a plant-based diet is good for you in every season, it is even more important to have a diet rich in phytonutrients and proteolytic enzymes that help protect you from disease during the winter months. Getting more raw and fresh fruits into your diet by juicing is one great way to add lots more veggies and fruits to your daily diet. 4. Humidify your home. The more serious flu viruses seem to spread more quickly in drier environments, so keeping the air in your home or office more humid is an easy way to help avoid the flu. Just add a humidifier to your list of home gadgets during the months when you turn your heat on. 5. Make sure your Vitamin D levels are optimal. While we do produce Vitamin D naturally with sunshine, many people have deficient levels of Vitamin D when tested. Next time you have your blood work done, ask your doctor to check your Vitamin D level, as it is an important vitamin that supports your immune system. 6. Take probiotics. Another good supplement to increase protection against colds and the flu are probiotics. Probiotics are made up of the good bacteria found in your gut. New research suggests that 70% of your immune response comes through your gastrointestinal tract, so keeping your gut healthy and rich in good bacteria is critically important. 7. Drink plenty of filtered or spring water. One of the most efficient ways to move all of the excess debris through your system is to stay hydrated. It is good for all aspects of your body and is especially helpful through the colder and drier months. If you do get sick, a good way to get some relief is to use inhalation therapy using organic menthol or eucalyptus oils. Put a few drops of the essential oil into an almost-boiling pot of water. Cover your head with a towel while leaning over the pot and inhale the steam for a few minutes. Be careful not to lean too close to the steam to avoid getting burned. Another easier method is to put a few drops of the oils on a washcloth and bring it into the shower with you. Are you often affected by cold or flu symptoms at this time of year? Even in the comparably temperate climate of Northern California, more people seem to suffer from colds and flu during the chillier winter months. 7Immunityenhancing ideas for the Cold & Flu Season Try some of these ideas for a happy and healthier 2014!
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