Fighting Colds and Flus During Flu Season

As I’m writing this I’m sure I’m going to get sick. But, the fact that I’ve been working overtime for the last two months and I’ve managed to stay healthy, is well, astonishing. Only three years ago, I used to get sick at least once a month. I didn’t understand it. I ate healthy, worked out, took some vitamins – why am I still getting sick? I realized avoiding getting sick was a lot more than just hitting the gym. Especially when going to the gym was possibly one of the places I was catching the colds (how many people do you know who workout sick? why don’t clean equipment?). Over the last two years, I’ve managed to cut down my sick time by over 80%. To keep those colds away, here are some tips I’ve found work for me.

  1. Vitamin D. Most importantly, vitamin D gummies. Not only does vitamin D keep us healthy, but the yummy gummies ensure that I never forget to take it. Seriously. Who forgets to eat candy? NO ONE. A few years ago I told my doctor I would take a vitamin C and B12. She said to me: “stop wasting your money!” Vitamin D is the only supplement I should be taking. The other vitamins are just creating expensive pee. Her words not mine! Unless you are not eating any veggies or fruit; vitamin C and B supplements are not necessary. Many of us experience vitamin D deficiency, especially up here in Canada during the winter months, we are not exposed to enough sunlight. Foods that have vitamin D, don’t usually have enough to support what we need a day. A supplement of vitamin D is needed and studies show it boosts your immune system (something I definitely need: I have the weakest immune system ever). If you need more proof, a study in medical journal Archives of Internal Medicine shows that those with the lowest vitamin D in their system, reported catching more colds (about 40% more likely). The Canadian Cancer Society recommends 1,000 IU of vitamin D a day in the fall and winter months. When I’m feeling a cold coming on, I’ll sometimes up my dosage to 2,000 IU.
  2. Proper Sleep. Surprise, surprise. Lack of sleep affects your immune system. If you are not getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep a night, it can suppress your immune system. Although we are not 100 per cent certain, many studies have shown a link to sleep deprivation and the immune system.
  3. Stress. It’s hard to avoid, especially when you are working a ton, saving for something, in debt, etc. But less stress = less colds, flus and overall better health. I find when I complain about anything excessively and am stressing out about it, I almost always get sick. Remember college or high school, during mid terms, remember always getting sick? Yeah, me to. There’s a definite link. Stress impairs our immune system and in turn usually affects sleep as well. To keep my stress levels at bay, I’ve started to complain less, become more positive in situations when I am usually quite negative and in turn think about what I’m thankful for. It’s amazing how much the mind can control our bodies. So my quick tip: stay positive and optimistic. Studies show people who we’re dealing with unemployment and family/friends types of stress were the most likely to catch colds.
  4. Eating Well. So this one is kinda a no-brainer. But It needs to be said none-the-less. And I MEAN eating healthy – which doesn’t mean going on some crazy diet. I mean eating proper foods and getting the proper amount of veggies, fruits, grains, healthy fats and proteins. Going on a cleanse, where you are vitamin deficient is not ideal. Eating 700 calories a day will not keep you healthy. Properly nourishing your body will not only help you feel great, it will also help you fight those colds.
  5. Washing your hands and sanitizing. Now I don’t mean going sanitize-Nazi on your life. Some bacteria is needed to help strengthen our immune systems. What I’m talking about is washing and sanitizing when your are using a public restroom. If you are in the service industry or constantly handling food, drinks, shaking hands, whatever – make sure you sanitize before eating a sandwich or touching your face etc. When I’m at the gym, I will sanitize the equipment before and after, as well as sanitizing my hands after touching dumbbells or barbells (they don’t get cleaned that often). I’m not going to lie, I used to never be a sanitizing kind of girl, but my sick calls have definitely gone down after being more aware of when I need to sanitize to protect myself from contagious germs.
  6. Alcohol. Okay, before you freak out at me, just listen. I’m not saying don’t ever have it ever. I’m just saying that if you feel like you may be getting sick, or you are over stressing/over working, alcohol will expose you even more to colds and flus. Drinking is also associated with staying up late, lack of sleep and eating unhealthy foods – all of which I’ve mentioned above that can be a culprit of weakening the immune system. Alcohol impairs the normal digestion of nutrients as well as impedes the liver, which stores many vitamins for the body. Most of the studies are done on excessive or binge drinking. There are studies too that show small amounts of alcohol can actually improve our health. Bottom line – don’t drink a ton if you aren’t feeling well. And at the same time, avoid having two or three drinks every night. But still have fun and enjoy life! Just don’t get mad at me when you go on a drinking spree on Wednesday night and get sick by the weekend 😉

So far these tips have been keeping me on the healthy side this cold season. If you have any tips or tricks please comment below so we can share the love and keep everyone healthy this fall!

-Ashley

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