Stay Healthier this Flu Season

By Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, NLC

It’s January and the winter is here. Along with the cold weather comes the increased risk for illness. But don’t fret there are ways to ward off following victim to the germs!

Here are 5 ways to keep your health in tact this winter. 

  1. Wash Your Hands frequently – Washing your hands has been proven to decrease the spread of germs. Using someone else’s computer or touching that subway pole? Wash your hands as soon as you can to prevent getting sick.
  2. Drink plenty of fluids – Do you drink enough water? If your answer is no, now is the time to pump up the fluids. Being dehydrated is bad for your health. I know you’re probably going, “it is too cold to guzzle 32 ounces of water this season.” The good news is you can get your water in many forms. Go for teas, soups, and stews, along with regular cold water consumption. If you drink caffeine beverages be sure to drink a glass of water in between to combat the dehydration of diuretics like coffee. Skip the soda. It has no nutrients and will just wind up making you more sick. How do you know if you’re not getting enough water? Your lips and skin can be signs of dryness.
  3. Eat nutrient dense foods – Power up with foods that will provide omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin C, healthy fats, and proteins. You want to color your plate with avocado, nuts, seeds, and vegetables like cabbage, kale, carrots, celery, peppers, and spinach. Leafy green vegetables provide an abundance of vitamin and minerals that will pump up your immune system. Organic grass fed bone broths will provide protein and vitamin D without having to take a supplement. These foods can be integral to fighting off colds.
  4. Watch your sugar intake – Added sugar is one of the worst things for your immune system. You may have some holiday candy lying around that is too good to pass up, but be careful in how much you indulge. Start eating sugar and you will be sucked into its scary web. The more you have, the more you will want to eat. Sugar has been shown to increase inflammation and this can weaken your immune system by destroying white blood cells. If you are sick be sure to stay away from the sweet stuff and instead opt for a citrus  fruit to get your fix. This way you’ll be fueling your body with fiber and vitamin C that it needs to help fight a cold.
  5. Keep your gut healthyToo much bad bacteria in your gut can lead to poor immunity. Want to boost your gut health? Add some pre and probiotics to your diet. The best prebiotic foods are plants that are high in fiber. Be sure to eat a lot of colorful vegetables. These are high in fiber and antioxidants which will benefit your gut. Eating probiotic foods is another way to improve the health of your gut. You can find these in fermented foods like pasture raised kefir, sauerkraut with no chemical additives, and sea veggies like seaweed and kelp. You can also take a probiotic. Adding a probiotic to your diet will help cultivate healthy bacteria. Be sure your supplement is live and has colony forming units (CFUs) in the billions. Look for one that has B. Bifidum, Streptococcus and Thermophilus.

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