Stopping the Cold and Flu Onslaught

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It’s that time of year: cold and flu season are fast approaching. And, with the quick and early drop in temperatures  (global what?), the season promises to be longer and nastier. There is no “cure” for the cold and flu. Even though drugs and other substances may help, your body must fight off the viruses through the immune system. This is why it’s vital to boost your immune system especially this time of year. Here are a few ways to accomplish that:

1.  Sleep- Getting enough sleep (7-9 hours for adults) is crucial to keep your immune system at top performance. How many Americans get enough sleep? My guess is not enough

2.  Exercise- Exercise can boost your immune system in important ways. However, you can’t over-exercise or your immune system takes a hit. Workouts that go too long cause stress on the body and immune system.

3.  Eat well- Low sugar, whole grain foods, limited meat, lots of fruit and vegetables, and other healthy choices boost a person’s overall health and immune power.

4.  Stress- Keeping the body in a constant fight or flight response wreaks havoc with the immune system. This is true even for low level daily stress, so you should avoid it if possible or deal with it through relaxation techniques, fun activities, friends, etc. A good, basic technique is an easy one to remember. In a high stress environment think of: STAR (Smile, Take a Deep Breath And Relax). This can really make a big difference.

I don’t specifically recommend supplements because that is a personal decision to be made with a doctor, but I use them and believe they have an important place in fighting colds and the flu. So, the following represents my personal experience and is not medical advice. I start with Vitamin C. I typically also take Oregano Oil, Olive Leaf, N-Acetyl Cysteine, and Bromelain. The first two may have anti-viral properties and the last two could help with congestion. I also fry up green beans or spinach in a lot of garlic. It’s bad for the breath, but probably beneficial in getting rid of foreign invaders in the body.

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Adequate Rest Prevents Infections

The answer to preventing the flu – swine or otherwise – may be as simple as getting a good night’s sleep. A new study found that those who slept an average of less than 7 hours a night had a 300% greater incidence of virus development than those who got 8 hours or more.  Those who lost sleep were 550% more likely to develop an infection than those with adequate rest. So, according to this research, something as simple as 8 hours of sleep a night has a profound effect upon our health!

I love to sleep. Not in a “I’m depressed and love the world of sleep” type thing, but in the sense that after a full day, I look forward to sleeping. I have never been the type to brag about only getting 4 hours of sleep. In fact, if I get that little sleep, you’ll hear about it, but it won’t be bragging. I admit I need 8 hours a night, or I can sense that I am not quite at my full potential. America is basically sleep-deprived, and since studies show that tired people are also more obese, maybe we should serious look at our country’s lack of sleep as part of our healthcare crisis! Note to politicians: Instead of throwing more money at health care, throw sleep instead.

Black-Out Curtains: Save Sleep and Save Money Making Them

It seems like every house, apartment, or dorm I’ve lived in during these past 10 years has had some type of light right outside the bedroom window.  Right outside!?!  While they do make me feel more secure, they also make it harder for me to get quality sleep. I am not totally off-base, as studies show that sleeping in a room with some light is associated with higher levels of some cancers. In fact, just last week, Science News announced a new study has linked artificial light at night to a higher risk of prostate cancer. The studies are clear: artificial light leaking into our bedrooms at night cause health problems due to a lack of sleep. However, as I explain below, the solution need not be expensive (or involve you wearing one of those strange-looking sleep masks).

I’ve tried every solution, from taping up garbage bags to buying fancy curtains.  Yet, nothing seemed to work as well as the high-end brand black out shades my mom installed in her house.  I commented about this to her one day.  Her response was for me to go get some black out material at the fabric store.  Obviously I’ve never made curtains before, and I didn’t even know they had this “stuff”!  But for around $6 (after using the 40% off coupon in the paper), I got 2 yards of fabric.   I sewed a pocket for a tension rod and I was done.  Instant dark! Even in the day time it’s really dark in the room. It makes for a world of difference in our room.   I can’t tell you how great this material is.  You do not need to hem it.  Even if you don’t sew very well, you can make these.  As a matter of fact you don’t have to sew it either if you get a tube of liquid stitch.  Or if you’d like to take it one step further Martha Stewart has a How to Make Your Own Roman Shade tutorial here.