You have probably heard that water is good for you, but when you understand why, you’ll be so excited about drinking water. Water is essential for your overall health and well-being. When your body is dehydrated, it is unable to function optimally. Water helps your kidneys to flush out toxins. Water supports healthy blood flow, brain function and helps to regulate your body temperature. Most importantly, your immune system depends on proper hydration. Your body depends on water to create “Lymph” a bacteria-fighting fluid that circulates throughout your body.
Your Lymph nodes (part of your Lymphatic System) need water to create Lymph, a fluid that circulates throughout your body, capturing harmful bacteria and bringing them back to your Lymph nodes to destroy. Staying hydrated also helps to keep your energy levels up and aids in better muscle recovery. Water carries vital nutrients to our brain and is crucial for our memory and focus. Drinking water throughout the day is one of the easiest habits you can develop that will help you avoid getting sick and help you feel your best every day. One way to help you drink more water is having great-tasting water you love. Drink filtered water free from chemicals and dirt and retain beneficial minerals for water that is natural and nourishes your body.
One of the best ways to support your immune system is to avoid sugar. I know, it is especially hard to avoid sugary treats during the holiday season. I mean, what is Halloween without a few candy bars?! While splurging a few times is inevitable, monitoring your sugar intake will help keep your immune system strong. Even if you are not eating candy or dessert every night, you may be consuming more sugar than you think. The most common source of added sugars are drinks, flavored lattes, soda and juice account for almost half of the added sugar in the average American diet.
According to a Harvard Health Letter, "Eating lots of added sugar may trigger chronic inflammation, an inappropriate reaction of the body's immune system that leads to high levels of unhealthy substances in the bloodstream.” Avoiding sugar during flu season is especially beneficial for helping to boost your immune system. White blood cells are vital in the body’s defense plan against infection. White blood cells called Neutrophils, circulate throughout your body, hunting down and destroying potentially harmful foreign bacteria and fungi. Sugars, like fructose, glucose or sucrose, impede the ability of Neutrophils to capture bacteria. Consuming less sugar and more nutrient-rich foods will help give your body the tools it needs to fight off foreign invaders and stay healthy.
Germs and bacteria linger on the surfaces all around us. Doorknobs and light switches can be potential hiding grounds for pathogens left by different people throughout the day. Consistently washing your hands is one of the proven ways to avoid getting sick. As the saying goes, the best offense is a good defense. You can build your defense with good hygiene. In other words, wash your hands. Soap molecules are able to split open many viruses, breaking them apart and leaving them harmless. One end of a soap molecule bonds with water. The other tail end of a soap molecule hates water and bonds with oils and fats.
When soap and water are used to wash your hands, the tail end of a soap molecule is attracted to the fat membrane layer of a virus, while the other end bonds with the water. This opposing force cracks open a virus molecule, spilling its contents out into the water, to wash down the drain. The importance of handwashing was first advocated for in the 1840s by Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian physician. Dr. Semmelweis noticed that fewer women died during childbirth when the doctors washed their hands. Despite writing an entire book around his findings, his colleagues considered the idea that their personal hygiene could have an effect on infection rates absurd. The medical community widely rejected his ideas and Dr. Semmelweis was eventually committed to a mental institution, where he died from…an infection. It would take over a hundred years for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to publish the first official hand hygiene guidelines. Luckily, we now understand the significant danger of microbes and their ability to spread infection. Washing your hands will help you stay healthy and stop the spread of germs.
It’s tempting to muscle through the day when you feel under the weather. Many of us even feel proud of our ability to continue to work even while sick. In reality, when you are sick you are highly contagious. Especially within the first 5-7 days of infection. Staying home and isolating yourself is an act of kindness to your co-workers, friends and family. When you take these precautions, you help to prevent a continuous cycle of people spreading germs among each other and repeatedly getting sick throughout the flu season.
I know it's gross, but I have to mention it. If you are a nail biter, you may want to take extra precautions to avoid biting your nails during the flu season. A study found that the average person touches their face over 16 times a day. You may not even notice when you touch your face or bite your nails. Germs can linger under your nail beds. So while you are mindlessly biting your nails, germs are getting into your body. Your mouth and eyes are one of the easiest ways germs and viruses enter your body. Take the time to wash your hands before you eat and after you have been in a new environment. This simple step will significantly help to lower your chances of getting sick.
It feels miserable to be stuck in bed for a week fighting the flu and you are probably already aware of most of this advice. The trick is actually doing them. Start checking food ingredients for added sugars, set a phone alarm to remind you to drink more water, and keep travel-sized hand sanitizers in your car and bags. Soon these actions will develop into healthy habits. Stay vigilant and stay healthy!