10 Tips for Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

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Newsflash: It’s cold and flu season! I want to share  with you my tips for avoiding the flu because, if I can make it through this winter unscathed, it will mark the third consecutive year that I’ve not gotten sick. I haven’t been sick since I began transforming to a healthier lifestyle in November 2009.

10 Tips for Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

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I was a little worried about my record the week of New Years, but I managed to successfully fight off that cold, only feeling a little achy and having a sore throat for a couple of days.

Note to self: Do not volunteer to help with 2-year-olds at church. Babies are healthier.

Just to be clear: The following tips are based on my own personal experience. They are my personal opinion and  are not intended as medical advice, nor are they intended to replace your doctor’s instructions. If you have any questions about your health, you should consult your doctor.

Now, let’s carry on. The following tips are what I believe have helped me stay healthy these last three years.

1. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. A healthy, balanced diet keeps your body strong and ready to fight off germs. For me, a healthy diet includes:

  • Fruits and/or vegetables at every meal
  • Foods high in Omega-3’s several times a week, such as tuna, salmon, kale, and spinach at least twice a week
  • Brightly-colored produce such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and red and yellow peppers
  • Healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, and nuts

2. Get plenty of exercise. I believe everyone needs to be getting at least 30 minutes of cardio 4-5 days per week. The week I was fighting off a cold, I went running with my running buddy. I’d had a sore throat, I was achy, and it was about 38 degrees outside. Brian wondered, aloud, if I really thought I ought to go run.  I told him that if I didn’t go run, I’d just be using feeling puny as an excuse.

I knew I’d feel better after I ran and I did. As a matter of fact, the following day I felt markedly improved. When I work out, the sweat actually feels like toxins leaving my body. Even a moderate walk would have made me feel better than just lying around.

drink water

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3. Drink lots of water. I feel like water flushes toxins out of my body. I know a lot of people say it doesn’t have that effect, but even if it’s all psychological, it makes me feel better. At the very least, water keeps my body hydrated and helps that annoying tickle in my throat when I feel like I’m coming down with something.

4. Wash your hands regularly. We have soap dispensers at every sink in our house, including the kitchen sink. We wash our hands after going to the bathroom, after sneezing or blowing our noses, before eating, before cooking meals, and probably for a dozen other things throughout the day.

I’m mom to two germophobes. We carry around hand sanitizer for the times we can’t wash our hands and those two probably use it more than I do. I try to always remember to use it after I pump gas (ewww!). During cold and flu season (at least), it’s also a good idea to use it after:

  • Using the ATM
  • Pushing a shopping cart
  • Handling money
  • Touching door handles in public places

5. Take Vitamins C and D. I try to remember take Vitamin C and D every day during cold and flu season. If I’ve forgotten for awhile, I start popping those pills anytime I start feeling a little run-down, have a sore throat, or have been around people who are sick (like those 2-year-olds in the nursery at church).

I’ve become a fan of Emergen-C. I’m not crazy about the taste (it’s not my Spark), but the raspberry is tolerable. I have also become a big fan of Zicam.

6. Get lots of rest. Sleep is so important for optimal health, especially when fighting off illness. I’m one of those people who needs lots of sleep, but I’d think 7-8 hours would be the minimum for good health – and naps are extremely helpful for those times I’m really feeling run-down. Even a 15-20 minute power nap can make me feel much better.

fresh air and sunshine

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7. Get some fresh air and sunshine. Even when it’s cold outside, I find it helpful to make sure I’m getting fresh air. Whether it’s going for a run, walking dogs at the shelter, taking my dogs out, or just walking to the mailbox, I feel better getting outside at least a little bit every day.

8. Sanitize surfaces. I often forget, but making use of the sanitizing wipes for  shopping carts is really important this time of year. And, if people in my house or sick, I break out the Lysol and start spraying doorknobs and toilet handles. I also wipe down phones and remote controls.

9. Don’t touch your face. I think most people know this, but avoid touching your face – especially around your nose and mouth – when you’ve been around someone who’s sick. It’s nice to be discreet about the hand sanitizer after you shake someone’s hand. {grin}

10. Wash toothbrushes. It’s a good idea, though I don’t always remember, to run toothbrushes through the dishwasher after the cold or flu has run its course through your family.

You may notice that I didn’t say anything about the flu shot. Brian and I are both some of those people who never get it because we both got so sick the one time we did get it. I know some people get the shot faithfully every year, while others avoid it like we do. Use your best judgment on the flu shot.

Those are my tips for avoiding the flu and colds, but be sure to read the official tips for staying healthy from the CDC.

Have you found any practices that seemed to help you and your family stay healthy during cold and flu season?

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  1. Great tips 🙂 We also do not get the flu shot either. we are doing these and adding cinnamon and honey everyday. It tastes good and I have heard wonderful things about it 🙂 Have a great day!

  2. Great advice! My husband and I are nurses and we don’t advocate the flu shot either. I know it’s not supposed to happen, but I got sick the last time I took the shot too. Carter had to take it for work the last couple of years or risk being fired. It bothers me it is “pushed” so heavily. I wonder about the drug companies who make money from this vaccine if people get it (even if you do not pay for it, your insurance is paying the drug companies for it!) they make money, If it goes unused for the season, they don’t! I do think if one has asthma or is over 60, it’s a good idea (maybe), but that applies to no one in our house, so we don’t get it either. We have not had the flu in many years. All this to say, I agree with your tips!

  3. Exercise goes a long way to help prevent colds and the flu. In recent years in my house, I’d be the only one NOT to get ill and both my husband and I believe its the 6 miles of walking that I do almost daily. I’ve never gotten the flu shot but somehow stayed healthy. I believe its exercise keeping my immune system strong!

    Wonderful, helpful post!


  4. i so love your list! 😀 I am also one of those (and my hubby and son) who got very ILL after taking the flu shot! we even tried TWICE for good measure! two years in a row (the first two after our son was born) but after that we wised up quickly 😛 and have (knock on wood) not gotten anything worse than a common cold … since!

  5. Love your tips.
    I have become a fan of Emergen-C also. Last year my whole house got the flu and I was the only one who didn’t. Why….because as soon as something starts in one of the kids, someone sneezes and coughs on me or I at all start to feel run down I take it. I use the orange flavored and put it in a glass of oj. It gives the oj a little kick.

  6. My family does not receive flu shots either. The only sicknesses my children have ever had is the occasional cold, a stomach bug maybe once a year, and my youngest used to get ear infections once a year. We follow many of your general rules as well. Eating healthy and getting enough exercise can do wonders for one’s body.

    Great post!

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