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10 Tips to Help you Stay Healthy this Winter

Come winter, immunity is the season's magic word! As temperatures drop, windows and doors remain closed, harboring an environment for viruses to thrive. As a result, if your immunity isn't up to speed, you're more likely to get sick. So to ward off colds, the flu and other winter germs lurking in the room, these 10 useful tips will help you and your family stay well during the cold, dark months ahead.

 
 
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1. Use hand sanitizer wherever possible

Particularly if you have little kids around. Researchers from Children's Hospital in Boston studied 292 families for 5 months, during which they discovered that those who carried hand sanitizer with them had 50 percent fewer cases of stomach bugs than nonusers. Predominantly because, when used correctly (your hands should still feel damp after rubbing the gel together for 10 to 15 seconds) hand sanitizer products practically eliminate all germs. So spare yourself the winter blahs this year, and carry hand sanitizer with you.

 

2. And don't forget your feet

With your hands taken care of, your feet need tending to also. Winter's heavy shoes, boots and socks can take a toll on our feet. The best defense? Moisturize your feet daily. Doing so will keep fungi from entering cracked winter skin. And once applied, wear socks with synthetic fibers to wick away moisture faster.  

 

3. Change your toothbrush

toothbrush

If you've just had a cold or the flu, a mouth infection or a sore throat, use a new toothbrush. Germs often hide in the toothbrush, which can lead to re-infection. Stock up on toothbrushes, so there's always a spare handy.

 

4. Add some zinc to your yogurt

Your go to mineral to keep a cold at bay, is zinc. Start your morning ritual off with a serving of yogurt alongside some probiotics (live healthy bacteria that help replenish good bacteria in the gut) with zinc, added. Alternatively, you can also stock up on foods like oysters, zinc-fortified cereals, crab, beef, turkey and beans.

 

5. Go toward the light

According to the Academy of Family Physicians, six out of every 100 Americans may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) (difficulty of mood swings that occurs when light diminishes in the winter). To counter SAD, and keep you upbeat this winter, try vitamin D, exercise and light therapy.

 

6. Stay hydrated

water

Once the weather has cooled down, we may not feel as thirsty. But, not drinking enough water throughout the day can up your risk for dehydration. Furthermore, allowing your body to become dehydrated can leave you more vulnerable to getting sick. But, drinking enough water will help the body carry nutrients to cells, getting rid of toxins. To ensure that you are getting enough water, drink half your weight in ounces. So, if you weigh 120 pounds, drink 60 ounces.

 

7. Take the herbal supplement echinacea

A 2007 review of 14 studies at the University of Connecticut found that the herbal supplement echinacea reduces the risk of a cold by 58 percent and cuts 1.4 days off its duration.  

8. Stock up on fiber

A 2010 study, conducted at the University of Illinois, found that fiber in foods, like oats, apples and nuts, helps reduce inflammation, and strengthens the immune system by increasing anti-inflammatory proteins.

 

9. Eat more mushrooms

mushrooms

A 2009 study at Tufts University found that after a 10-week diet of powdered white button mushrooms (the most common variety of mushroom) certain immune cells in mice became more active, boosting protection against colds and viruses.

 

10. Rinse your nose frequently

As odd as nasal irrigation sounds, studies have shown that those who rinsed their nasal passages every day for six months had fewer symptoms from allergies and sinus infections. The study also found that such individuals also reduced the intake of antibiotics and nasal sprays. The best way to clear out your nasal passage is with a Neti pot, or a nose dropper, using a saline solution of 1 cup water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Pour or squirt some of the mixture into one nostril, while holding the other nostril shut. Repeat on the other side then blow your nose.

 

BONUS! Express yourself

UCLA researchers have found that a constructive argument with your spouse can actually increase immunity. The study conducted, asked 41 happy couples to discuss a problem in their marriage for 15 minutes, during which the researchers detected surges in blood pressure, heart rate and immune-related white blood cells - all of which were similar to the benefits adopted by moderate exercise. The idea here is to refrain from keeping everything bottled up.

 

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