According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, flu and cold season can begin as early as October. The average adult catches two to three colds each season, and children sneeze and sniffle even more. With a few preventative measures, you can help keep yourself and your family healthy through the fall season and spend less time wiping noses.
1. Add fall harvest vegetables to your diet!
Eating fruits and vegetables that are in season has always been a good idea, but Kathryn O’Brien, M.H.Sc., Nutritionist at evolve Nutrition, told TapGenes that the harvest crops can help keep us healthy. “Add sweet potatoes and carrots into your diet as they are high in antioxidants, which support your immune function,” O’Brien advises. “These other fall foods that are high in vitamin C will also keep you healthy in cold and flu season — broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, tomatoes, and red, green, or yellow peppers.” Also, eating more garlic and onions seems to have benefits. Garlic and onions are favorites of mine, but O’Brien says they’re more than just tasty because they can help keep us healthy. “Garlic and onions are full of something called allicin, which fights infection and bacteria,” she reports.
2. Take vitamin D!
Getting enough vitamin d is essential for strong bones, but it can also help boost your immune system. O’Brien told Tap Genes that “the most important immune boosting supplement to load up on in early fall is vitamin D, so talk to your health care provider for proper dosage for both you and your children.”
3. Get more sleep!
Staying up too late and getting up too early may help you get all your work done, but it can be putting you at risk of catching the cold or flu. Deborah Gilboa, MD, family doctor, and author of the new book Get the Behavior You Want… Without Being the Parent You Hate! told TapGenes, “Sleep is a great immune-booster! As schedules change remember that explaining to kids the healing power of sleep, and scheduling in enough time for everyone in the family will keep germs at bay.”
4. Stay hydrated!
Making sure you get enough water isn’t just about good skin and feeling rested, Dr. Gilboa says. “Healthy hydration helps to prevent and fight germs, and keeps the skin and kidneys in tip-top shape. Also, if a child (or adult) gets an illness that makes them too tired to drink well, good hydration beforehand will give them better reserves, and make them less likely to need IV fluids.”
“Mild to moderate exercise will improve sleep, and also strengthen the body’s ability to fight off colds,” says Dr. Gilboa, meaning those exercise routines you started in the summer should continue through the fall season.
6. Wash your hands and avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth!
Keeping your hand clean is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. It’s best to wash your hands with soap and running water for 20 seconds. If that’s not possible, use alcohol-based hand rubs. Since germs live on hands and surfaces, washing helps us from becoming infected with the cold or flu virus. The CDC also warns, “Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.”
7. Stay home when you’re sick!
Many of us are hesitant to take a sick day or to cancel events when we are not feeling well. But staying home to rest will help you get better quicker and will help prevent your sickness from spreading to others in the workplace or at school. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention agrees!