It can be tough to stay healthy during the cold months of winter – especially if you’re doing everything wrong.
For starters, avoid certain foods when you are stick with the cold or influenza. Milk, ice cream and puddings are mucus-forming foods. If you have a child or elderly person who needs nutrition and really likes dairy, use small amounts of fat-free milk or cultured dairy products only if absolutely necessary.
Soups should have a clear broth base, as cream soups create mucus, too. Limit your intake of heavy, greasy or very sweet foods while you are ill. Consume extra fluids and fresh, light foods.
Diluted juices, broth-filled soups and warm herbal teas are best for the sick. Avoid iced beverages and foods. The only exception to this practice is the use of ice pops for sore throats or when necessary if a person can’t keep other liquids down because of vomiting.
Some people like blander foods – such as chicken noodle soup – when they are ill, but spicy soups can be a good idea, as well. They help to rid the body of mucus and are rich in antioxidants and vitamins, such as vitamin C, which is needed for healing. Spicy foods such as peppers, garlic, onions and pungent spices are packed with antibacterial compounds.
But there are other things you shouldn’t do when you have a cold. Here are five:
1. Don’t keep your house closed up too tightly.
Don’t hibernate this winter. When the weather outside is frightful, you may be tempted to just stay inside by a cozy fire. While that is one of the joys of winter, too much of a good think may actually make you sicker. Many of us strive to make our homes airtight for the sake of comfort and energy. Unfortunately, airtight homes and offices don’t allow for much airflow when sealed up. Toxins, germs and particles from cooking, among other airborne pollutants, all accumulate. In work, school and home settings, germs just keep on circulating. So when you get a warm spell this winter, open up your doors and windows to let some fresh air in.
2. Don’t stay indoors all of the time.
It is vital that you get outdoors during the winter. Outdoor air is invigorating. Exposure to sunlight will help keep you well. If you engage in sledding, ice fishing, skiing or other vigorous outdoor activities, you will keep your entire body functioning better. Your immune, circulatory and respiratory systems will especially benefit. Fresh air and sunshine are great for your mental health, too. It has been proven that depression and anxiety impair immune system function. The combination of light and enjoyable outdoor exercise can help you avoid the winter blues. Getting exercise also will help you to maintain a healthy weight.
3. Stop relying on hand sanitizer to keep you well.
While frequent handwashing and hand sanitizing does reduce the number of bacteria on your hands, don’t assume that keeping your hands clean is all that you need to do to stay healthy this winter. You still need to use other hygienic practices. The number of adults who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom is astounding. Don’t be one of those folks.
When you wash your hands, do it correctly. Wash vigorously for at least 20 seconds. Make sure that you scrub between each of your fingers. Rinse and dry well afterwards.
And remember, there are a lot of people out there who have lousy hygienic practices. So protect yourself and your family. Don’t assume that others are being as considerate and respectful to others as you are.
4. Don’t go to work when you are sick.
Regardless of how indispensable your employer says that you are, stay home from work when you are ill. It is particularly important when you are first coming down with a cold or flu, because this is when the germs are the most contagious. Don’t go and finish out the week or wait to see how you feel once you are there. If you think that you are getting sick, stay home. Also, keep your children home from school when they are ill.
You need rest when you are ill. All the cold and flu products in the world will not compensate for this. Your symptoms may be suppressed, but you may actually be ill longer if you don’t take timeout to let your body heal.
5. Don’t bury yourself in blankets.
If you have a fever, don’t pile on the blankets. In fact, remove the covers and heavy sleepwear. Just drape a sheet lightly over the ill person. This can help to reduce a fever. If you feel cold or have chills and don’t have a fever, feel free to pile the blankets on. Just be aware that chills are often the first sign of a fever. Fevers are most likely to rise in the late afternoon and evening.
Keep you and your family healthy this winter by eating well, staying active and using common sense. Consult with your health care provider for individualized advice, particularly if you have an underlying health concern, are elderly or have young children.