Parents know better than anyone – when one person in the family gets sick, it spreads like wildfire through the house. Plus, with little ones there’s even more chances of bugs since they’re around a lot of people each day at preschool, daycare, and school. So what can you do to keep the sick days at a minimum? Be proactive and fight back against all those bugs trying to wreak havoc on your home! It’s impossible to avoid all illnesses of course, but we found 7 stay-well secrets for cold and flu season to help keep you and the kids healthier, happier, and runny-nose free.
#1 Get Enough Sleep
Researchers conducted a study on 164 adults where they monitored their sleep after spraying a live common cold virus in each person’s nose. The people who got over 7 hours of sleep each night were less sick or didn’t get sick at all! The findings published in the journal SLEEP prove that getting enough sleep is linked to keeping away the common cold.
#2 Wash Your Hands A Lot!
An article in WebMd about how doctors avoid getting sick states, “I try to wash for 20 seconds — sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to myself twice,” says Nancy Hughes, MS, RN, director of the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health in Silver Spring, Md. She’s also careful after she washes. “I use a paper towel to dry my hands and to turn off the faucet, especially in public bathrooms.” Another doctor says that he washes his hands 40 to 50 times a day! Teaching your kids to wash up well will go a long way towards keeping the sniffles away.
Note: Skip the antibacterial soaps. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and American Medical Association all state that antibacterial soaps aren’t any more effective than regular soap and they actually may carry unexpected risks.
#3 Keep the Keyboard Clean
Did you know computer keyboards are germier than toilets? It’s true. Keep your keyboard clean and wash your hands after using it (especially public ones). How do you keep a keyboard free of germs you ask? A simple swipe of a disinfectant wipe won’t cut it. Wipes can actually just spread bacteria around if not used properly. Here’s a thorough tutorial from CNET for cleaning keyboards correctly.
#4 Get Enough Protein
This might be one you haven’t heard before. In a post on ABC News, Douglas Kalman, PhD, RD, director of nutrition and applied clinical trials at Miami Research Associates says, “Research shows that diets that are too low in protein can deplete the immune system. So I make sure to get protein-rich foods throughout the day, especially fish, eggs and yogurt.” Kids can be picky eaters, so they might not be getting enough protein in the foods they like. Nut butters are an easy way to get protein in a child’s diet if they don’t like meat.
#5 Drink A Lot of Water
Doctors say we should drink about 8 glasses of water a day to help flush toxins out of our system. Be sure to stay hydrated to prevent illness, and if you get sick, drinking plenty of water will help get the infection out of your body more quickly.
#6 Avoid the Crowds
If your kids are in school there really isn’t any way for you to avoid contact with sick kids, but you can control where you all go when they’re with you. Enclosed spaces with a lot of people in them like airplanes, trains, and buses are going to be hotbeds for bugs and germs so avoid them as much as possible during peak cold and flu season.
For many of us, getting enough exercise is more of a challenge in the winter. The sidewalks get icy, it’s freezing cold, and it gets dark earlier – all of these things can deter the impulse to get your blood pumping. When you exercise, the white blood cells move through your body faster and do a better job at fighting off illness, so exercising is helping you prevent illness! Get your heart racing for 30 minutes a day and you have a better chance of fighting off the flu.
Of course we can’t guarantee that if you do all of these things you won’t get sick this winter, but one thing is undeniable – our overall health depends on the basics: get enough sleep, eat healthy food, drink water, exercise, and wash your hands.