Avoiding the Cold & Flu Naturally
With the holidays in front of us, it’s time to focus on the next season on the calendar: cold and flu season. While a somewhat less joyful occasion to prepare for, it’s equally as important to help your household stop the spread of germs.
So, why is winter such a potent time for germs? The temperature isn’t to blame on its own; rather, when the thermostat drops, we all naturally engage in habits that are ideal for helping to spread the cold and flu viruses. We hunker down inside to stay warm, we spend more time in close contact with others, we dial back healthy-eating and exercise habits. Generally speaking, we hibernate. While there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s cold outside, there are some strategies you can employ to help stop germs from spreading.
Start with a Healthy Immune System
There’s a strong correlation between building up a healthy immune system and cold and flu prevention. When your immune system is functioning as it should, your body is better equipped to handle germs that might otherwise knock you out. (That’s why you might not get sick from sitting next to someone who’s wheezing—but your friend or partner might.) There’s really no reason not to take an active role in building up your immunity.
Don’t worry About every Germ
Embracing a little dirt in our lives may be a good thing. According to research published in the Journal of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, living in hyper-sterilized environment with decreased microbial exposure during childhood can actually contribute to the development of autoimmune and allergic diseases later. So let your kids go out in the yard and get a little dirty. (Curious? You can read more in Gilbert’s book, Dirt is Good: The Advantage of Germs for your Child’s Developing Immune System.)
However Disinfect those Germ Hot-spots
A little garden dirt might help you become more resistant to bugs down the road. But there are also areas of your home that are breeding grounds for the germs that can cause illness. According to research conducted by Charles River Laboratories, an international research, and the National Sanitation Foundation International, an independent public health and safety organization, the dirtiest locations in your house may not be where you’d think. Most people guess that bathrooms harbor the most germs, but that’s not always the case. Here’s what the research turned up:
- According to the Society for General Microbiology, bacteria can divide as quickly as every 20 minutes under the right conditions. (That’s why a disinfecting routine can help kill household germs).
- A study conducted by Charles River Laboratories found more than 340 different types of bacteria on 30 different objects found in the typical home.
- Of these 30-some objects, some of the germiest are your dish sponge, your toothbrush holder, your pet’s bowl, the kitchen sink, and the coffee reservoir.
- Cutting boards and kitchen countertops can be hotbeds for bacteria. According to the NSF, food-prep and storage areas are far more contaminated than your bathroom.
Keep Gut Immunity Strong
The microbes that live in your gut not only help your body digest food — they also help regulate your metabolism, hunger, weight, and immune system. A strong immune system relies heavily on having a healthy, well-functioning gut – as 70 percent of your immune system is in the gut — and probiotics help keep your gut engine humming. Probiotics are “good” bacteria that help reduce inflammation and prevent infection; they may also reduce the severity of a cold or flu. Additionally, making sure your gut has enough nutrients to keep it’s defenses on par is imperative. Gut Be Calm has the perfect mix of vitamins to do so!
Track the Flu
Lastly, you can now find out what the severity of outbreaks are in your area. Follow flu-risk trends and predictions in your area, here.