Do you know people who always seem to be sick?
I know I do, and I often attribute it to their unhealthy diet–I know I’m a bit biased!! But, I really do think if you eat well, you’ll feel well.
Now this isn’t to say you’ll never get sick, but in my opinion a healthy lifestyle goes a long way to helping you ward off colds and flues.
So, what exactly can you do to help prevent flu?
1. Eat a healthy diet
When your immune system receives a regular supply of essential nutrients, it will be able to protect you against bacteria, viruses and other organisms that cause disease or illness.
So, first and foremost, you should aim to eat a well-balanced diet, including foods from all five food groups.
Extremely important: make sure you’re eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, so that you’re benefiting from all those nutrients:
- Have a glass of 100% pure fruit juice with your breakfast
- Have a fresh salad at lunchtime with lots of raw veggies
- Stock your freezer with a selection of frozen vegetables for those times when you’re really busy
- Always keep fruit in your car, bag or your desk drawer to snack on throughout the day
- Start your dinner with salad or vegetable soup, then follow with another two veg portions with dinner
Eating a healthy diet will make sure your body is getting a rich supply of the amino acids it needs to build your immune system. Lean meats are also important as they contain iron and zinc, and a deficiency in these can depress your immune system.
So, other healthy foods to include regularly in a balanced diet are:
- Lean meats, fish, poultry
- Low-fat dairy
- Legumes – peas, beans and lentils
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
You should also try to stay away from excess sugar and unhealthy fats, such as saturated fat and trans fats.
2. Get some sleep
Getting a consistent amount of sleep is so vitally important to overall health. And, sleep is tied to the balance of hormones cortisol and melatonin—adequate levels of these hormones are so important to a properly functioning immune system.
It seems when you sleep is important too.
Apparently, the optimal spring/summer bedtime is between 9 – 10 p.m., and the optimal fall/winter bedtime is between 8 – 9 p.m. Also, a sleep cycle started prior to midnight is thought to be far more effective than that started after midnight. So, get some Zzzzzz…
Check out this article on improving sleep quality.
3. Exercise regularly
There’s no doubt exercising regularly is a habit, and it’s easy to fall out of that habit, but evidence suggests those who take regular exercise don’t get sick as often.
So, try to find something you enjoy doing and make some space in your schedule each week so that you can fit it in.
Remember, it’s important to keep active in winter too, so if you’re not into going out in the frost and snow, try using exercise videos in your own home, or go to your local leisure centre for a swim or to use their gym.
4. Cut your stress levels
Getting stressed is thought to hinder your immune system, and in fact constant stress may even increase your risk of getting certain conditions of the heart, allergic reactions, and immunity problems.
Check out these stress banishing tips for more advice.
5. If you get sick
Technically this isn’t a way to prevent flu, but anyway…
It’s not always possible to avoid getting sick, so if you do get ill here are a few tips to help you out:
- Go for small regular meals and snacks
- Drink lots of fluids such as water, milk, dilute fruit juices, tea, etc
- Choose soft, easy to swallow foods, such as nourishing soups, milk, milky puddings, canned fruit, potatoes or rice
- Ask for help from a close friend or family member if you need it
- Get plenty of rest
What are your tips on how to prevent flu?