A proactive approach to cold & flu season

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The frigid and blustery days of our great Canadian winters are an invitation for cold and flu viruses to take over our bodies. Prevention is key when it comes to boosting our immune systems to avoid getting sick.

Did you know that exercise and sleep are powerful natural immunity boosters? Combine adequate amounts of activity and rest with some healthy habits to up your chances of making it through the season without taking any sick days.

Rest. Getting enough sleep is essential because your body can't heal without adequate rest. According to Dr. David Katz of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, "a single night of sleep deprivation can depress your immune system," so it's important to sleep at least 7 hours per night. If you find yourself unable to fall or stay asleep, try adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to a tissue and slipping it inside your pillowcase to help ease you into a restful slumber.

Exercise. And in spite of the cold, be sure to get moving! Moderate exercise--around 20 to 30 minutes per day--increases blood flow, which helps speed nutrients to your cells while decreasing stress hormones that dampen immune response. Can't get to the gym? Dancing around your living room to your favourite playlist will get the job done.

    Hydrate. Dehydration allows toxins to accumulate in your body more easily since you won't be flushing out our system, so drink lots of water and pee often! And keeping your fluid levels up is an effective way to flood out infection if you already have a cold.

    Minimize stress. Stress weakens our immune system and makes us susceptible to infection. Practice yoga, meditation, read a book -- do whatever it is that gets you out of overdrive. Just wind down and relax, regularly.

    Eat a healthy diet. Think plenty of vegetables, good fats, whole grains, and lean proteins. Some special immune-boosting foods include garlic, onions, and brightly coloured vegetables.

    Wash up. Keep your hands clean by washing frequently to reduce the spread of germs.

    Stay home. Pretty easy to do when it's so cold out, right? Prevent spreading your germs or picking up the germs of others by limiting your exposure during the season of sickness. Besides, your body needs rest to heal completely.



    Feature image via WHIO