Sick? Stay away from me! I want to be healthy!

Oh it’s gross out there.  And in here too.  What is “going around” this year and is everyone sick? I’m not entirely sure what I’ve caught, but I’ve lost my voice and when I do try to squeak or croak, I get a nod of acknowledgement, usually followed with, “ohhhhhh, I had that last week!” Sometimes I get extra helpful advice like, “eat more oranges, they have vitamin C and will boost your immune system” or “Ginger, man. Ginger is what fixed me right up!”

Don’t be one of us!  Don’t succumb to the designer illness of 2014 – stay healthy by  maintaining a well balanced lifestyle and following these SIMPLE, take anywhere tips (trendy fad foods and fancy equipment not required!):

1. Keep your stress levels low

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“OMG everyone around me is sick aaaarrrrggghhhh!” may be what you’re thinking, but it’s actually not helpful to keeping you healthy!  Did you know that the stress of worrying has a negative effect on your immune system?

Regardless of whether you’re worrying about your boss’s nagging cough or your boss’s nagging about the project deadline, your body doesn’t care about the source of stress, it simply knows to release those perfect stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine, which weakens your immune system.

Instead, just learn to manage your stress when it does pop up (and you’re human, do go easy on the expectation that you’re a total zen master), try these six simple stress management tips.

2. Wash your hands often

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Hopefully this one is self explanatory, but the nitty gritty is in the way you wash your hands.  In public bathrooms, I’ve watched some people sort of stick their fingertips under the running water and swish them around a little bit, without soap, then wipe their hands on their pants and leave.  Well, I guess I can give them points for trying but I’d hesitate to say that that was proper hand washing technique for germ killing.  Use normal soap (antibacterial stuff is the same, in terms of effectiveness), lather up and rub your hands, plans, fingers for 20 seconds…THEN RINSE.  Putting a giant dollop of foaming soap into the palm of your hands and then rubbing them for two seconds under the water is significantly less effective.

Don’t have a bathroom near by?  Carry a travel size hand sanitizer in your pocket or at your desk.

3. Change your toothbrush every 3 months

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Did you know that over 500 species of bacteria are thriving in your mouth at any given time? Ewwww. Help your immune system out by making sure that your mouth stays healthy (think of all the ways that a sick person’s bacteria gets to enter your body) by keeping your toothbrush clean.  It’s an awesome breeding ground for all those species of bacteria, other germs, fungi and if you haven’t tossed that bad boy out in 3 months, well…that’s three months worth of growth and build up.

If someone in your home is fighting the flu, and you happen to share the bathroom, make sure the heads don’t touch during storage!

Excuse me, I’m going to go throw away my toothbrush right now and floss and gargle….ick.

4. Stay active and get moving

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Studies show that moderate levels of activity four or more days a week can improve your immune system.  Obviously if everyone in your yoga studio or Zumba class is sick, then you may want to make other arrangements, but even going for a brisk walk for 45 minutes will benefit your health.  Don’t overdo it though, as exercise intensities move up the scale from moderate to highly intense, your system will register a temporary drop in immunity (your body treats intense exercise as a stress and will secrete stress hormones…which when done properly will result in the desired results, but if you’re doing this in the height of flu season or are feeling under the weather, it’s a bad time to start licking doorknobs and not wash your hands).

5. Eat well and skip that (alcoholic) drink

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We always hound you about eating right, eh? We’ll borrow a page from the Canada Food Guide and recommend lots of veggies, fruits, and eating the colours of the rainbow.  Personally, during the cold weather, I love soups and stews, and whatever literally keeps me warm. Comfort foods can have a positive effect on your system as well as your mood.  Steel cut oatmeal topped with frozen blueberries is loaded with vitamins and minerals.  The capsaican in your spicy curry is good for your heart. Hurray for food!

Stay well hydrated with warming teas, hot water with lemon and honey, and soups.

Finally, skip or dramatically reduce alcohol intake during this time – it has a depressant effect on your white blood cells.

6. Get enough sleep

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Sleep having an effect on your immune system? Meh, impossible!  I know this is what you’re saying, right?  As if we needed another excuse to try and get more rest, but our society is so sleep deprived, it’s shocking to think that this advice needs to be told to adults.  Hey, don’t worry I’m right there with you, staying up late to finish that last email or if you’re a parent, after putting your kids to bed it must be nice to have some decompression time before you hit the hay.

While you are sleeping, your immune system produces cytokines (a type of protein), which helps protect your body.  For example, production should increase during times of infection, inflammation and when under stress; if your sleep system is disrupted or shortened, cytokine production is decreased.  Don’t forget that during sleep, your body is doing most of its repair restoration – other important infection-fighting cells are released.  So go get more sleep!  Aim for 8 hours (or more if you need it).  Some studies show that over 10 hours can be detrimental to health. Unless you’re a cat. Then you’ll need at least 20.

Click here to find out how to get those valueable zzzz’s 

Finally, if you’re the one that is sick and wondering why everyone leans backwards when you sniffle or you find your colleagues putting hosing the phone down with Lysol after you finished using it, there are a few tricks to help regain the contact of our fellow man: Try coughing into your elbow instead of your hands, and limit physical contact with public spaces and equipment, if possible.  Did you know that the latest reports tell us that your phones and ipads are dirtier than toilets? Ewwwww.

Finally, this was a really cool video I found that helps to answer the question


The answer may surprise you!

Now go forth, and be healthy!!

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