How to Avoid Getting Sick in the Winter

avoid getting sick in winterDo you hate getting sick during the winter? It’s a real drag, and yet it’s so easy to avoid. And just how can you avoid it? Today, I’d like to share some of my favorite strategies to stay healthy even when the days are short and you have to spend time around sneezing and coughing people.

First, it’s helpful to avoid hanging around coughing and sneezing people. But sometimes, that’s not possible. So how can you avoid catching whatever they have? Read the tips below and incorporate as many of them as possible into your life.

Note: I’m not a medical doctor

Just a quick reminder. Yes, I go by Dr. K, and I’ve had a passion for learning as much as I can about medical issues, especially when it comes to natural ways to stay healthy. BUT I’m not a physician nor a medical professional, and I don’t dispense “medical advice.” My doctorate is in linguistics!

Then again, I do know a LOT about medical issues. I’m a total geek when it comes to learning about what to do to stay or get healthy. In fact, I’m a walking encyclopedia of alternative health information. Just realize that your mileage may vary, and that my information is not meant to replace any medical advice and care you may be receiving from your own medical team.

If you have any serious health conditions, be sure to speak to your doctor before you take any of the recommended supplements, especially garlic and ginger, which can have a blood thinning effect.

The key to avoiding getting sick in winter: A strong immune system

At the root of staying well is a strong immune system, and you can do a lot to keep yours strong and healthy. So let’s look at some of the basics of keeping your immune system is in fine shape:

1) Take care of yourself

The most important part of keeping your immune system strong and healthy is taking care of yourself. I bet you know that, but it won’t hurt to review the basics and remind yourself of the things you should do…

a) Get enough sleep

Yup. That’s one of the most important ones. Your body needs sleep to function well, and especially to stay healthy. If you want to get sick really fast, simply cut down on sleep drastically and THEN hang out with coughing and sneezing people.

That’s one of the reasons why lots of people get sick during long plane trips. First they skimp on sleep to get ready. Then, the trip across time zones will mess up their sleep patterns, which means they miss more sleep. And then, there are the germs…

b) Keep stress levels low

Some people believe that those who complain about stress are wimps. But people who work on avoiding stress or at least on keeping it contained, are very wise! Stress really can make you sick, in part because it weakens your immune system. It also messes with our entire endocrine system.

So do what you can to lower your stress levels! Take some time to figure out which things in your life are causing the most stress and make whatever changes you can. And then, there are a wealth of strategies to help your body cope better with whatever stress is left. I assembled a lot of my favorites in my Instant Stress Relief Strategies guide!

c) Eat well and consume enough liquids

Next, be sure to eat “real” food, especially fruits and vegetables, and avoid processed food with weird chemicals as much as possible. And when I say it’s good to consume enough liquids, I am referring especially to warm and hot liquids, like tea and soups. Your body will thank you.

A hot rum toddy is probably okay, but don’t overdo it. Instead, focus on chicken soup. It really has proven to be good for you.

d) Get some fresh air and exercise

It’s also important to get some fresh air and sunshine if at all possible. It’s good for your body and your spirit too. And when I mean exercise, I don’t necessarily mean intense workouts, but do get moving on a daily basis.

e) Supplements to help you avoid getting sick

These are my personal recommendations… Do check with your medical team to make sure none of them conflict with any prescription medications you may take.

In addition to a good multi, you should make sure you get enough of the following, either in the form of food or as supplements:

Garlic
Vitamin D3
Vitamin C
NAC (n-acetyl-cystine)
Olive leaf extract

The last two made a big difference when I added them to my line-up of supplements.

2) What to do if you feel a cold coming on?

When you feel a cold coming on, in the form of sniffles or a scratchy throat, it’s time to take some additional measures. There are some additional supplements you can take that will help your body fight off that cold. And if you haven’t been very diligent about taking the ones listed above, now’s the time to start taking them daily.

a) Supplements to help you get better fast

If you’re already starting with the sniffles, you may be able to keep them from growing into a full-fledged cold. Here are a few things to do in addition to those you’ve been doing to keep your immune system strong. First of all, increase your garlic immediately, and add a few extra supplements:

More garlic, fresh and/or in supplement form
Ginger
Goldenseal
Ecchinacea
Elderberry
Zink

I also keep some Airborne fizzy tablets around and take one or two a day when I’m in danger of coming down with something, for example when I’m stressed or worn out, especially when I’m also going to be in close proximity of people who are already sick. There’s a reason why it was first developed for air travel and school teachers.

And I definitely take it immediately when I feel the first signs of sniffles. It has a good dose of Vitamin C and zink, plus several other immune strengthening ingredients.

There’s another excellent supplement I tend to take immediately at the first sign of cold symptoms and it usually gets things nipped in the bud before the cold has a chance to blossom into the full thing:

Gaia Herbs “Quick Defense”

This one is so good that I make sure that I always have it handy. If I end up not getting sick until it is way after its expiration date, I consider it a good investment in my ongoing health…

Sort of like the umbrella principle. When you carry an umbrella with you, it’s much less likely to rain than when you don’t (provided you live in a climate where rain is a regular possibility).

You may also want to take a combo that includes garlic, ginger, goldenseal, and other immune strengthening herbs. I like the one by Futurebiotics.

One thing I find very helpful is Vick’s VapoRub ointment, which I apply to my chest, my upper back, and also to the soles of my feet. It seems to do amazing things.

Yes, I could go on and on, but these will get you started.

b) Chicken soup on steroids

And here’s my favorite secret weapon: chicken soup spiked with fresh chopped garlic and ginger, and also some chopped green onions. You might also want to add some Cayenne pepper, or some chopped peppers of your choice (go easy on those). Have it several times during the day. It works great.

Won’t it give you garlic breath? Well, yes, it will. But since you want to keep your distance from potential carriers of cold and flu viruses, I consider that a good thing…

c) Get lots of rest

Here’s another key to getting better, or preventing your initial sniffles from getting worse: Get lots of rest.
Have your spiked chicken soup, slather yourself in Vick’s VapoRub, and take a nap or three.

Can’t sleep? Read a book you’ve been meaning to get to, or do some puzzles or whatever you enjoy doing when you’re not feeling so hot.

Hope the cold germs will stay clear of you, but if they don’t, the strategies above should help.

As always, if you feel worse and are running a very high fever, do see your medical professional!

WARNING: If you are on blood thinning medication, be sure to speak to your doctor before taking garlic and ginger, since these can interact with your blood thinning drugs and could lead to overdose.