The obvious tips are to wash your hands and get your flu shot, but a here are a few extra tips to stay healthy through the season.
1) Stay hydrated
It might be cold out, but it is also dry and you are still losing water. Being dehydrated can wreak all sorts of havoc on your system including causing headaches, fatigue, acne and dry skin. It is also hard for your body to ward off germs when you don't drink enough fluids. Not a water fan? It is the healthiest option but there are others. Try drinking herbal teas, coffee or including soup during the day.
Evidence shows that regular physical activity can help to boost your immune system. It also helps to relieve stress. Too much stress can make you more vulnerable to the nasty critters lurking about your school or work so be sure to also keep your stress to a minimum. Maybe a little yoga or a bubble bath to unwind after fighting it out holiday shopping at the mall?
3) Eat your fruits and veggies
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides lots of fiber and nutrients your body needs to help maintain your health. So if you have been skipping out on the apples and broccoli, you might be lacking certain key vitamins to keep everything in order.
4) Feel a cold coming on? Maybe try some zinc
It's not a guarantee since there are still some arguments around how effective zinc really is on colds but zinc oral lozenges seems to help decrease the duration of the common cold in adults. The majority of studies show a significant decrease in the duration of symptoms (about 1.6 days) of the common cold when adults take zinc gluconate or acetate lozenges providing 9-24 mg elemental zinc per dose. The zinc does need to be taken early though (within 48 hours of symptoms starting). Be aware! This will not cure your cold and common side effects of zinc tablets include nausea and metallic taste in the mouth. Excessive doses of zinc can also be lethal so avoid large doses and/or chronic use. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist before taking as many medications can effect and be effected by zinc tablets.
5) Vitamin C is your friend
Again, it won't cure your cold, but it could reduce the severity. Taking 500mg of vitamin C daily can reduce the duration of colds by as much as 1/3. Just like zinc though, too much can cause problems including kidney stones so avoid excessive amounts.
*** Overall if you are eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains and lean meats you will get plenty of zinc and vitamin C. Also be aware that any supplements can be effected by certain foods, drugs or other supplements so talk to your dietitian, doctor or pharmacist before taking to see what is right for you. As always, I say food first!***
6) Keep the stress low and the sleep high
Chronic stress and poor sleeping habits both decrease your immune system. Your best defense against the common cold is to keep the stress to a minimum and get your 8 hours of sleep every night
Stay healthy! And happy holidays!