Winter Health Tips for a Healthy Immune System

Wash your hands, take your vitamins, go to bed early and eat your veggies. As it turns out, your mother was right and her advice was just what the doctor ordered. With cold and flu season just around the corner, it behooves us to heed those common sense suggestions.

Here are some tactics to include in your winter stay-well strategy:

Wash Your Hands: The 20 seconds that it takes to wash your hands could spare you days of the coughing, hacking and sneezing caused by colds and flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control, washing your hands is the single most important thing you can do to prevent the spread of viral and bacterial infections. Use warm water and soap and wash your hands for 20 seconds. Rinse thoroughly to remove soap.

Get Plenty of Rest: Take time to get the rest you need to stay healthy. Studies show that two thirds of all adults in the United States are not getting the recommended eight hours of sleep. Sleep is critical for a strong immune system and healthy metabolism. Make sleep a priority if you want to stay healthy this winter.

Keep Moving: When it's cold outside it can be difficult to get motivated to go for a walk or a workout, but it is possible to get some exercise without having to endure harsh weather. Explore community recreation centers for exercise classes and indoor heated pools or check out the walking clubs that are sponsored by many indoor shopping malls. Invest in a workout video that you can use in the comfort of your living room.

Eat Sensibly: A nutrient-rich diet is one of the most critical components for a strong immune system. Many foods contain nutrients that increase the number and strength of the cells which help fight off infections. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, green peppers and broccoli. Whole grains and vegetable oils are good sources of vitamin E. Your body needs plenty of carotenoids which can be found in red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes, pumpkin and leafy green foods.

Use Nutritional Supplements: Millions of Americans take nutritional supplements to boost their immune systems. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly one fourth of all adults in this country use supplements on a regular basis. Supplements containing Vitamin C, zinc and Echinacea are particularly helpful in fighting off colds and flu. Many holistic practitioners recommend using a natural nasal wash in addition to supplements. A good one to try is Xlear, which is available from the Institute for Vibrant Living. This natural, non-addictive formula keeps nasal passages irrigated which reduces the chances of invasion by pollutants and germs.

Laugh Often: Laughter has been considered potent medicine since biblical times. A steady diet of hearty laughter can boost your immune system. Negative emotions, particularly depression and stress, are harmful because they make people more vulnerable to illness. Laughter is free and has no side effects except brightening the lives of the people around you.

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