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6 Ways to be sick less often in 2014

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

Send the tissue packing

Occasional illnesses are just a fact of life, but you don't need to let germs have their way with you. Keep nasty bugs at bay with these six tips for a healthy 2014.

Happy Woman

Send the Tissue packing

Occasional illnesses are just a fact of life, but you don't need to let germs have their way with you. Keep nasty bugs at bay with these six tips for a healthy 2014.

1

Wash your hands

Everyone knows — or should know — that proper hand washing is the best possible germ buster. The problem is, however, that practically no one washes their hands well enough to destroy disease-causing germs. According to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Health, only 5 percent of the population washes its hands long enough and well enough to kill the infectious germs that live on our hands and fingernails. To cut your risk of illness, spend 15 to 20 seconds washing your hands with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom.

2

Keep your hands

off your face!

We see you getting handsy. According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, most Americans touch their faces an average of 3.6 times per hour, which is a big no-no for germ transmission. Do your best to keep your hands away from your nose, eyes and mouth to prevent yourself from depositing germs directly into your bodily orifices. Your fingers and fingernails are disgusting petri dishes for germs, so a little caution can make a big difference in your disease risk.

3

Ditch your multivitamin

for a healthy diet

Believe it or not, a recent study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that multivitamins do not lengthen lifespans, improve quality of life or prevent disease. According to researchers, many Americans use multivitamins as a way to fill holes in nutrition, but they're simply not effective as an alternative to healthy food and beverage choices. Instead of shelling out money on a multivitamin, make an effort to obtain your vitamins and minerals through a healthy diet.

4

Prepare and serve

food safely

The FDA reports that there are 48 million cases of foodborne illness in the U.S. each year. The tummy troubles and general malaise associated with foodborne illness are both uncomfortable and dangerous, especially since illnesses account for 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths annually. The best way to prevent foodborne illness is to prepare and serve food as safely as possible by washing each item properly, cooking it thoroughly and promptly storing it after the meal is served. Visit the FDA's safe food handling guide for further instructions.

5

Put on your walking shoes

Your body is wired to respond to regular exercise. The American Journal of Medicine reports that "women who walked for a half hour every day for one year had half the number of colds as women who did not exercise." Regular walking, or exercise in general, kicks the immune system into gear so it can more effectively fight off bacteria and viruses. In fact, the same study found that women who walked regularly had increasing levels of immune-boosting white blood cells in their bodies compared to women who didn't exercise.

6

Replace your linens

If you or your children suffer from asthma (which accounts for 26 million Americans), you may want to consider replacing or covering your bed linens, pillowcases and mattresses. Old linens and pillowcases are a cesspool of skin cells and dust mites, which can trigger uncomfortable symptoms for people who are at risk for asthma. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology recommends that asthma sufferers encase their pillowcases and mattresses in allergen-proof covers to keep symptoms at bay.

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