The cold weather has officially arrived and, while it can be nice to be able to snuggle up by the fireplace, more time spent indoors means more opportunities for germs to spread. Although it’s impossible to stay away from germs completely this season, here are some tips to avoid getting sick during cold and flu season.
Get a flu shot
This one is obvious. Getting a flu shot will give you immunity against the most common strain of the flu going around. However, it can’t protect against every possible strain, and it doesn’t protect against the common cold, so you’ll need to do more in order to keep yourself healthy.
Wash your hands
According to the CDC, washing your hands is a good way to avoid getting sick. We cannot avoid coming into contact with germs in our environment, but if we wash our hands before those germs transfer from our hands to our eyes or mouth, we can avoid coming down with a cold or the flu.
Get enough sleep
Since we all get exposed to germs, the best thing we can do to protect ourselves from getting sick is to strengthen our immune systems. How can we do that? A study in 2009 found that getting adequate sleep can be critical to a well-functioning immune system.
For this study, researchers dripped the common cold virus straight into people’s nostrils. Participants who were getting less than 7 hours of sleep were almost 3 times more likely to actually develop a cold than participants who were getting at least 8 hours of sleep.
Eat fruits and vegetables
Multiple studies have confirmed that people who eat more fruits and vegetables are less likely to contract the common cold. That much isn’t surprising. But how much do we need to eat, and which fruits and veggies are best?
This study on pregnant women found that individuals with the strongest immune systems ate almost nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. The researchers also concluded that eating both fruits and vegetables provided better protection than just eating one or the other. In sum, there probably isn’t a shortcut, like, just eating carrots. A large quantity and a variety of fruits and vegetables seems to provide the best immunity boost.
Drink green tea
Green tea has some impressive health properties, and one of them is boosting immune function. When researchers had healthcare workers drink green tea or a placebo, the ones who drank the green tea were significantly less likely to catch the flu.
If you really don’t like green tea, you may not even have to drink it to get the benefit. This study found that just gargling with green tea significantly reduced the chances of contracting the flu in elderly nursing home residents.
Cold and flu season can be rough, but it doesn’t have to be. Simply improving your sleeping, eating and personal hygiene habits can make a tremendous difference when it comes to preventing infections. The evidence is clear: the best way to stay healthy is with healthy daily habits.