It’s a new year, and what better time to look at your own health routine and tweak it here and there? Follow these simple rules, and you’ll be a healthier you by the time the crocuses are blooming!
- Get your flu shot: The flu hit early in most parts of the country, but it’s still making the rounds. There’s plenty of vaccine available, and you can get a flu shot at most grocery and drug stores. Remember, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are in the greatest danger of developing serious complications because of the flu. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, don’t delay.
- Eat healthy: It seems like a no-brainer, but all of us get into a “food rut” and don’t always get enough of all the foods we need for peak nutrition. High-quality protein, such as fish, lean meats and beans help build white blood cells that fight infection. Fatty fish, walnuts and flaxseed, provide antioxidants; omega-3 fatty acids to help balance the immune system. You also need fruits and vegetables – especially bright-colored varieties. Tomatoes in particular, are loaded with lutein, that promotes eye health, and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant.
- Keep moving: Exercise, in whatever form you can manage, stimulates immune cells that target infections.
- Hydrate, both inside and out: Lower humidity and temperatures actually help the flu virus to spread, which is why it’s more prevalent in the winter. Humidity actually kills viruses, so keep air in your home warm and moist. Try to keep the humidity around 50 percent and set your thermostat at 69 degrees. Don’t forget to also drink plenty of H20, in the form of plain water, tea, coffee or juice.
- Make bacteria your friend: Only the good kind, though. Probiotics are friendly microbes that may actually strengthen our immune systems. You can find them in yogurt with live bacteria, aged cheese, kefir – a fermented dairy drink, or other fermented foods like sauerkraut.
- Get plenty of sleep: ‘Nough said.
- Wash your hands: Mom was right about this, too. Soap up for about 20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice). If you can’t wash with soap and water, use a hand sanitizer. Be sure to clean your hands after coming in contact with the germiest surfaces like door knobs, TV remotes, fridge handles and money, and after shaking hands.
Veterans Home Care hopes you’ll follow these simple rules to help you avoid infections, or recover faster if you do get sick. Here’s to your health!