If your office is anything like ours, colds spread like wildfire. For many, it seems that at this time of year, only prayer and luck will keep you from being the next one hit with the bug. There are many explanations as to why winter is “sick season,” one, based on Ayurvedic theory (a system of medicine native to India), claims that the dryness of the season parches the sinuses, forcing them to work overtime to produce protective mucous, which ultimately acts as a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria. Gross, we know! But the bottom line is this: regardless of the cause of the so-called cold and flu season, you are not destined for a coughing, sniffling and bed-ridden sick day. Rather, support your immune system with these tips and stay outside of the (tissue) box this season.
Eat green: Steamed, sautéed, blended or juiced, no matter how you eat them, leafy green vegetables are packed with vitamins and nutrients and a sure-fire way to give your immune system a boost. If you’re looking for Vitamin C, skip the OJ and instead reach for the greens! Eat them often (at least once per day, more if you can).
Keep hands clean: This one’s fairly obvious, but regularly wash those hands with hot water and anti-bacterial soap to prevent the spread of germs.
Stay warm: To fight the viruses and bacteria that cause illness, keep your body warm by eating both spicy foods (like those prepared with herbs and spices like garlic, ginger and cayenne) and foods warm in temperature (like soups).
Hydrate: Drinking lots of water helps to flushes out the lymphatic system, the site of most illness and inflammation. Try sipping hot water with lemon throughout the day in order to ensure you’re getting enough fluids.
Pack protein and whole grains: Lean protein contains the vitamins and minerals your body needs to support and repair its cells, tissues and organs while whole grains provide your body with plentiful fiber, which does the same.
Sleep well: Quality sleep is key to maintaining good health. Six to eight hours is standard but it’s important to figure out how much you need.
Avoid immune system depressants: Try to steer clear of too much red meat, dairy, caffeine, alcohol and white sugar, all of which depress the immune system in some way.
Go nuts: Eating healthy fats (such as those found in nuts, seeds, avocado and salmon) reduces inflammation in the immune system and frees it up to fight antigens instead.
Get moving: Regular, moderate exercise keeps the blood moving and the immune system working!
Keep friendly bacteria around: Probiotics, found in some yogurts and kefir drinks as well as in fermented foods, work both to promote healthy bacteria in your belly and to rid the body of the unhealthy type. Not into probiotic-rich foods? No worries. Supplements do the same.
If you do get sick: rest-up and, of course, follow the advice of your preferred medical professional.