Here comes fall! As the cooler weather moves in, so does the cold and flu season. So, how can we keep our families healthy this time of year? As a mother of six, I can tell you that keeping a family of eight healthy is a huge priority for me. Aside from getting a flu shot every year to combat the season’s unique strand of the virus, there are a lot of practical ways to boost our immune systems and keep us healthy throughout the year.
Get out and get a little dirty
For many parents, the first instinct when a child or spouse comes home sick is to disinfect everything in an effort to keep germs at bay. However, studies show that our society’s obsession with sanitizing everything – our homes, desks, vehicles, children’s toys, and more – has actually worked against us. The lack of exposure to germs in small doses compromises the immune system by not giving it a chance to develop antibodies and build up immunity.
Now, I’m not saying that we should let your kids play with sick friends or go to school when they’re sick, but we need to let our children play in the dirt and get a little grimy from time to time. Allowing some dirt in your life is a good thing, whether it’s from the kids playing outside, our pets rolling in the grass, or carried in on the fruits and vegetables we grow and buy. Let the kids play in the mud, take the dog for a walk, and play in the yard. Studies have shown that pet owners live longer, healthier lives – all the more reason to get out and play with the pup!
Here are some basic tips from Harvard Medical to help build a strong, healthy immune system:
- Don’t Smoke
- Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get adequate sleep (7-8 hours a night)
- Consume alcohol in moderation
- Minimize stress
- Take steps to avoid infections:
- Wash your hands
- Cough into your elbow (not your hand)
- Don’t share utensils or beverages
- Cook meat thoroughly
Staying healthy doesn’t happen by accident. It requires effort and focus. Our bodies are needy, constantly changing organisms. When they’re cared for properly, they can last a long time and do incredible things.
You only get one body – Treat it well!