How to Stay Healthy this Winter

As fall turns to winter, cold and flu season moves into full swing. Last year was a record year for colds and flu and this year health officials predict it will be even worse. We must take precautions so the cold and flu season doesn’t catch us off guard.

High Risk Individuals

Though anyone can come down with a cold or the flu, there are certain individuals who are at high risk. These include:

  • Senior citizens.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Diabetics.
  • Heart patients.
  • Toddlers.
  • Those with chronic diseases or those who are receiving chemo therapy or radiation treatments.
  • Children with disabilities or chronic diseases.
  • Those with compromised immune systems such as HIV or AIDS patients.

If you are an individual who is in this high risk bracket, talk to your family physician or health care professional to determine if you should have a flu shot.

If you aren’t in this high risk category, there are a few things you can do to reduce the chance of coming down with a cold or the flu.

Hand Washing

If you want to ward off colds and the flue, wash your hands frequently throughout the day. To wash your hands thoroughly, wet them with warm, not hot, water. Apply a generous amount of soap and massage it into your hands and around fingertips and fingernails for thirty seconds. Clean with soap all the way up your forearms to your elbows. Rinse thoroughly, being certain not to leave any soap residue. Dry your hands well. If you’re in a public washroom, wash your hands in the same manner as described above and dry them with a paper towel. Use the paper towel to shut off the tap and then to open the washroom door. Toss the paper towel into the garbage receptacle as you leave.

Stay Well Hydrated

Be sure to drink plenty of fluids to keep your body well hydrated. In summer, we tend to drink a lot because it is hot. It’s easy to neglect hydration when the weather turns cool. To keep your body well hydrated, drink eight to ten cups of fluid each day. Part of your fluid intake should be water. Other sources of fluids include fruit and vegetable juices, milk, tea and coffee. Raw fruits and vegetables are also a source of fluid. Keeping your body well hydrated will flush out all toxins and help you to ward off colds and the flu.

Healthy Food Choices

Make healthy food choices. Humans tend to eat more in the winter months. Eat well balanced meals and be sure to include fish in your diet at least once a week. Fish provides the body with Omega oils that help to boost the immune system. Eat lots of fiber and cut back on sweets, snacks and fast food to ensure your diet includes important antioxidants that fight off colds and the flu.

Be Active

In winter the majority of people become less active. Don’t be a couch potato. If you dislike cold weather, create an exercise regime that you can participate in within the comfort of your home. If you need others to motivate you, consider joining the YM-YWCA or a local gym or recreation facility.

If you like cold weather, take the kids tobogganing, go cross country or downhill skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating or try snowshoeing. Winter sports can be lots of fun and they help us to ward off germs that cause colds and the flu.

If you eat a well balanced diet, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, stay hydrated and get lots of exercise, you will stay in optimum health through the long winter months and won’t have to cope with a cold or the flu.

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