Staying healthy in the coldTuesday, November 02, 2010 By Drake Rees
Winter is seems to be just around the corner as each day gets cooler and cooler, and almost everyone knows what that means; its flu season again. Indeed, winter is more often the season associated with illnesses like colds and the flu. Do not fret though, there are actually several ways to help prevent such pesky ailments. There is actually more to proper health care than just avoiding germs, such as: eating certain foods, handling stress, and recreational activities. There are four different foods that help the immune system fight germs. Garlic, when crushed or sliced, releases a substance called allicin, which has both antiviral and antibacterial characteristics. Certain mushrooms, like shitake or reishi, contain sugar compounds that can increase white blood cell count and help prevent infection. Red bell peppers contain twice the amount of vitamin C found in an orange. Vitamin C raises the levels of immune protecting cells. Just one Brazil nut contains the daily amount of selenium, a substance that reduces cold symptoms. Even though it would feel better to lounge around the house in pajamas all day watching cartoons and day time talk shows, it is even better to actually get up and move. Moderate exercise can help to generate endorphins, a feel good chemical that boosts the immune system and increases the production of white blood cells, which help to kill viruses in the body. At least one hour of exercise three or four times a week should do the trick. Be careful not to overdo it though, as overly tough sessions could actually reduce the production of other infection fighting cells. Trouble sleeping, excessive fatigue and irritability are often the signs of over training. Try more mild workouts, like walking, for a few days to ease up. Not only does having eight hours of sleep prepare the body for a new start every day, but can also fend off illness. The body goes through a deep regenerative sleep each night. During that slumber, the body undergoes immune strengthening reparations. Music is not only entertaining to listen to, but also raises production of the antibody IgA, the body’s first line of defense against germs. In one study, scientists played jazz music in a newspaper office with 10 reporters on their deadline. It was shown that the reporters’ IgA levels increased and continued to do so 30 minutes after the music stopped playing. It really does not matter what kind of music is playing though, it will still be good for your health. The most obvious way to fight germs is simply hand washing, especially after using the restroom. Hand soap kills most of the nasty bacteria and germs that cause sickness. However, there is actually a proper way to wash hands. Wet the hands and lather with soap for at least 20 seconds, but not under the faucet. It is the friction between the soap and hands that scrubs away the germs. Finally, rinse thoroughly and dry. These are just a few ways to stay healthy during the long winter months. Their easy to do and can really improve the chance of not getting sick. Not only will a person have a better immune system, but will be in good health, and feel happier.