By: Dr. Jaclyn West Corcoran
When fall approaches, more and more people around you may experience symptoms of cold or flu. But, have you ever noticed that not everyone in the family ‘catches the bug’? It’s unlikely they were able to avoid the germs that made others sick, and it may mean their immune system was better able to fight off the symptoms.
Your best defense this cold and flu season is your immune system. Here are some easy but effective ways to keep your immune system ready to battle the germs:
- Get the restorative sleep your body needs – The amount of sleep needed varies person to person. Typically, children need at least 10 hours and adults need 8 hours of sleep. Listen to your body.
- Drink plenty of water – your body is made up mostly of water. Beverages other than water may not provide adequate hydration and some drinks, like soda and coffee, may dehydrate you even more. You should be drinking about 8 glasses of water per day and remember kids need water too!
- Get off the couch – exercise can help boost your metabolism, mood and immune system. There are many exercise options in the community: getting outside to admire the leaves while on a walk or bike ride; swimming or using the wellness center at the high school, or a local gym, like Curves.
- Reduce your sugar intake and take Vitamin C - you hear this over and over, but the important part is knowing why. The cells in your body that fight off viruses and bacteria (white blood cells) need Vitamin C to function. Sugar and Vitamin C have a similar chemical structure, which means that they are both taken into the white blood cell in the same way. Unfortunately, for people who eat more sugar than Vitamin C, it leaves the cells without adequate Vitamin C to fight off the viruses and bacteria.
- Feed your body – it is important to eat foods that will provide the nutrients you body needs. The saying ‘You are what you eat’ is actually true. Fill your plate with colorful foods (beige is not a color); make it a game with your kids to see if they can ‘eat the rainbow’. Grocery stores and farmers markets are filled with great, fresh and nutritious produce.