While a flu shot is always a good idea, it’s not the only way to protect yourself from illness. Nutritious eats, natural supplements, meditation and exercise are just a few natural ways to maintain good health.
Keep your digestive tract healthy
As strange as it may sound, studies show that a healthy dose of bacteria may be just what you need to maintain gastrointestinal health. Probiotic supplements like Culturelle Kids Probiotic Packets help support the health of children’s digestive and immune systems.
Keep your fingers
off your face
Think about all the surfaces and items you touch throughout the day, each one crawling with germs. Every time you grab a door handle, borrow a pen or shake hands at a meeting, you’re grabbing a handful of bacteria. Pay attention and keep your fingers off your face to stop the spread of germs before you have a chance to wash.
Stay hydrated with healthy beverages like water, tea — or even coffee. Yes, a 2014 study from the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom shows a cup of java has the same hydrating effects as water. Try decaf green tea for immune-boosting antioxidants.
When it comes to preventing cold and flu, it turns out it really is all in your head. A 2012 study conducted by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health showed that mindfulness meditation could reduce the incidence, duration and severity of acute respiratory infections by 40 percent to 50 percent.
Get your z’s
According to the Mayo Clinic, people who don’t get enough sleep are more prone to catching a virus like the common cold. Why? Sleep is required for your immune system to do its job, so make sure you and the kids stick to a reasonable bedtime.
Wash hands properly
Teach kids to wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, scrubbing tops, bottoms and in between the fingers. When soap isn’t available, the next best thing is to use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
Go smoke free
While fighting off the common cold probably isn’t the first reason someone would quit smoking, the high levels of tar, nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes do weaken the immune system, leaving it less able to fight off infections as well as autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis — and of course, cancer.
Eat your vitamins
By now, you’ve probably heard the latest research that says taking multivitamins is a bunch of hooey. Make sure your body is getting the vitamins it needs by eating a variety of foods, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy. Check ChooseMyPlate.gov to see how to build a healthy plate.
Try immune-boosting supplements
Talk to your doctor about taking natural immune-boosting supplements like omega-3s, astragalus, vitamin D, ginseng and/or zinc. Natural supplements now come in a flavored powder that can be sprinkled in smoothies, yogurt or applesauce.
Take it easy
on the alcohol
When it comes to sickness, when you booze, you lose. While a recent study showed moderate alcohol consumption can actually boost your immune system, excessive amounts of alcohol has the opposite effect.
Just the flax, ma’am
Toss a few flaxseeds in smoothies or oatmeal for an easy way to get immune-boosting omega-3s, fiber and antioxidants.
Skip the sweets
Avoid sweet sodas, yogurts and desserts. Sugar suppresses the immune system, making it harder to fight off infection.
Soak up the sun
For years, sunlight has gotten a bad rap. Yes, overexposure can lead to skin cancer, but studies show that basking in a moderate amount of sunlight can lift people’s moods, lower blood pressure and possibly give immune systems a boost.
Friends with benefits
You’ve heard of friends with benefits. But did you know one of those benefits is improved health and longer life? A 10-year study of 1,500 older individuals conducted by the Centre for Ageing Studies at Flinders University in Australia found that those who had a large network of friends outlived those with the fewest friends by 22 percent.
Take a walk
The 2012 University of Wisconsin study showed that regular exercise reduced the incidence and severity of cold and flu symptoms by 30 percent to 40 percent.