I am Jack’s runny nose. Yep, even those who counsel others on the benefits of living well and eating right end up getting sick themselves sometimes. Truth be told, whenever the seasons change, my sinuses go haywire for a few weeks. Couple that with a live-in fiancé who came home coughing and sneezing and — BAM! — down I went. (I’ll probably need a lot of back rubs to recover. Just sayin’.)
My story is not all that uncommon now that the kiddies are back in school and the temperature outside can swing 20 degrees in any two-day period. So what can we do to stack the deck back on the side of our immune systems this fall?
Here are three basic tips that we all probably know about but still aren’t utilizing in the best way possible, because we’re really not doing them as often as we should be — or at all.
Tip No. 1 — Wash Your Hands
Spend five minutes watching any child who may have wandered into your germ-free bubble of happiness. Watch how often one of their fingers disappears into a nostril, watch how often they wipe their noses, wipe their eyes and how many of their explosive pathogen-filled coughs go uncovered. Now, think of how often in a day you touch objects such as door handles, shared copiers and printers, staplers, keyboards and the like.
Do you have kids of your own? Per a study done by the medical journal Infectious Diseases in Children, “In spite of all the studies about the benefits of hand-washing, improper or infrequent hand-washing continues to be a major factor in the spread of disease in daycare.” Sweet.
And then from our very own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Hand washing is the single most important means of preventing the spread of infection.” OK, we get it.
Wash your hands twice as often as you are now, and stay healthy.
Tip No. 2 — Increase Your Vitamin C Intake
If there are any remaining doubts in your mind about the power of vitamin C, click here to take a quick peek at what the Linus Pauling Institute has to say about vitamin C and its potential benefits on disease.
Study after study has proven its immune-boosting powers from the early days of scurvy to today. I personally take up to 1,000 mgs a day and have gotten that dosage up to 5,000 mgs per day before seeing any gastrointestinal ramifications. Emergen-C makes a great product that can easily be taken with you to the office or classroom.
Since vitamin C is one of the vitamins that the body can’t produce on its own, we have to get our supply either from fruits and vegetables or in vitamin form. Raise your vitamin C levels this time of year, and if you’re not currently taking any, I’d start as soon as possible.
Tip No. 3 — Stop At Least Twice a Day and Take 10 Deep Breathes
As I wrote last week, the control we have on our time and personal commitments gets quickly eroded the closer we come toward the end of the year. Literally, our evenings and weekends are suddenly not our own anymore.
Studies have shown that breathing deeply for 15 minutes a day can lower blood pressure levels up to 15 points over the course of two months. Since we may not have 15 minutes to spare, starting out with 10 slow deep breaths will get your body and central nervous system a slight reprieve that can last all day. Stress is the silent killer of our day. Help keep it at bay by breathing through the holidays.
Following the three simple steps above will raise your white blood cell count, lower your cortisol levels and help keep you performing at an optimum level — be it in the gym, at work or on the home front. Check back next week for some more quick and easy workouts that you can do from home or on the beach.
Have at it.