Health Column: Ways to Stay Healthy in the Winter Months

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Many of us endure common colds and sickness once the winter months arrive. However, there are many everyday, simple tasks that can keep you and your family healthy during the holidays. One of the most obvious but often neglected tasks is frequent hand washing. Hand washing is important as bacteria and germs fester in the winter months.

Wiping down surfaces such as door handles, washing hands before eating or drinking and even wiping down your phone can protect you from common illnesses. Exercise is also a huge benefit to staying healthy because it helps make the body more efficient at fighting bacterial and viral infections as well as keeping the immune system strong.

The holidays are often filled with family, treats and home-cooked comfort food – and a healthy diet is neglected.

According to UPMC Pinnacle“It is estimated that up to 20 percent of the United States population gets the cold or flu each year. Wintertime presents a higher likelihood to develop cold and flu than during any other season.”

Therefore, a diet high in green veggies and fruits high in antioxidants, such as dark berries, can boost your immune system and aid in protecting gut health.

According to Prevention, getting your regular immunizations, such as the flu shot, can “reduce the risk of flu illness by 50-60 percent in the general population and can decrease the severity and side effects if you get sick.” Although some may argue that you can still contract the flu even if you have received the flu vaccine, it can still protect you – particularly for the elderly and young children who are more susceptible.

Taking multivitamins such as vitamins A, B6, B12, C and D and the minerals chromium, copper, folic acid, selenium, calcium and zinc strengthen and protect the immune system. The vitamins can also help you curb side effects of illnesses such as strep, the flu and the common cold.

Ultimately, attempting to live a well-balanced lifestyle by eating healthy, exercising regularly and keeping your hands and everyday surfaces clean can fend off winter bugs.

Photo courtesy of Urgent Care.

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