young woman blowing snow off gloves

Written By Sarah Milano

With the cold weather, comes the bugs. No, I’m not talking about the bugs we see crawling around during the comfortable, warm months but rather the bugs that you can’t see when winter rolls in this month. Viruses and bacteria have a way of overpowering your immune system during the colder months and leaving you feeling sick. Having children seems to increase the risk of catching an illness since they tend to bring every germ home from school with them.

Follow this 5 step plan to stay healthy and fight off the bugs all winter long:

1.         Eat Healthy

The healthier you are, the stronger your immune system will be. A well-balanced diet full of nutritious foods will ensure that you are receiving your share of vitamins and minerals. This means you should also be consuming an appropriate amount of calories since undereating can also compromise your immune system. In addition, studies show a possible link showing that refined sugar can feed certain diseases such as cancer. With this in mind, unhealthy eating can also possibly feed viruses and bacteria.

2.         Get Enough Sleep

The importance of proper sleep really can’t be stressed enough. Your body repairs and rejuvenates itself while it is in a sleep state. If you are consistently getting less sleep than necessary, your body will suffer as a result – especially if your body is trying to fight off a bug. If your body is sleep deprived, it can easily be overcome with any bug it is exposed to; while a well-rested body is prepared to fight bugs off. As a general rule of thumb, adults need about 7-9 hours of sleep every night and school-aged children need 10-11 hours each night. However, if you are sick, more sleep is needed each night in order to get better.

3.         Take Supplements

Even if you eat a well-balanced diet, taking a multi-vitamin is a great way to ensure you are receiving adequate amounts of the most vital vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 in particularly are important for supporting the immune system and helping to ward off bugs.

4.         Practice Proper Hygiene

This may seem like an obvious one but it is usually easier said than done. Washing your hands is by far one of the most important steps we can take against infection. Just think about how many times throughout the day your hands and fingers touch an entry point to your body. When you sneeze and cough you will cover your mouth, and all the germs on your hands then enter your mouth. Biting your nails, rubbing your eyes and scratching outside of your nostrils will also allow germs from your hands to enter your body.

You may think your hands are clean but think about everything you touch: your desk, the telephone, door knobs, shaking hands, railings, etc. Now think about how many people may have touched those same items. Unlike you, those people may have poor hygiene and their hands can be covered in germs that will then be passed on to the next person to touch the same item.

Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer at your desk at work and make sure your kids each have a bottle attached to their school bags so that hands can be cleaned often – especially if a sink isn’t nearby.

5.         Keep Up with Cleaning

Cleaning your house during cold season is especially important because there are higher amounts of viruses and bacteria present. Bathrooms and kitchens are breeding grounds for germs and are the most common places for your family to spread their germs. Wipe down door knobs, toilets seats, sink handles and refrigerator handles several times a week, if not every day, to kill germs and reduce the chances of a bug getting passed around your home.

By following this 5 step plan, you can support your immune system and help your body to fight off any bugs it comes across. Share this plan with your kids and make a family effort to stay healthy throughout this winter and all seasons to come.

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