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8 Ways to Protect Against Cold and Flu

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It feels as if I am always in some phase of sickroom — the start of a cold, then end of a stomach bug, the midst of allergies. It’s always something.

But here is what I don’t get: I eat well, with a diet full of organic products, Greek yogurt, kale and quinoa. I sleep about seven to eight hours a night. I perform a fair amount of exercise each week. And I, in the midst of paranoia about my health, had a full blood panel done with the results declaring that I was healthy as could be, save for being deficient in vitamin D (but really, who isn’t these days?).

Yet here I am, again, in a state of sniffling, coughing and/or queasiness, looking up my symptoms on WebMd and diagnosing myself with something far more exotic and devastating than a cold or passing flu. The illness of the day doesn’t just take hold of my body, but kidnaps my brain.

While I lay curled up on the couch, wresting with the newest virus that has invaded my body, I decided that enough was enough. I can’t let these germs rule my world. I would fight back against the seasonal this, that and the other. I know germs will always be there, but I am going to do everything I can to build up my immune system in order to try to avoid all the upcoming sicknesses (especially with a germ carrier like a kid in the house). We moms, we don’t have time to get sick, now do we?

I could have asked my doctor or gone, again, to WebMD for advice on the topic. Instead, I asked my super smart Facebook friends what they do to help their immune systems do their jobs. You know what? I think I’ll try them all.

1. Hand washing.

This is considered the first line of defense. But the thing about it, is it is so easy to forget to do. When you wash your hands, make sure to use soap, lather and rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds. Rinse and repeat often throughout the day.

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2. Hand sanitizer and/or wipes.

While there is a whole debate about the usage of hand sanitizers, they can come in really handy if you are out and about, handling all sorts of things that other humans may have touched. Often, there is no access to a place to wash your hands the old-fashioned way. I’ve decided I will keep a bottle in my car, so after handling money at the supermarket or helping out at my daughter’s school, I can kill a few germs before proceeding with my day.

3. Get a flu vaccine.

This is another debatable topic, with some totally backing the yearly flu vaccine while others think of the flu vaccine as more of poison than protection. With the amount of viruses that I get, I think this year – for sure – will be one where I get the shot.

4. Get rest and don’t be stressed.

This sentence is so, so, so much easier to type than to live. If you are a parent, if you work or if you enjoy the crazy combo of working and parenting, then rest is not something you get very often (if at all). Stress comes with both working and parenting. I find that, as a working mom, I am in an almost constant state of stress. This is, I’m sure, kicking my immune system’s ass. There is no easy fix for this one, but it’s a biggie nonetheless.

Remembering to take a pill is far easier than dealing with being sick.

5. Stay hydrated.

Those eight 8-ounces of water I’m supposed to be drinking everyday? Yeah, that doesn’t happen. But it should. Apparently, keeping hydrated by sipping on water all day will help your immune system.

6. Eat a real orange everyday.

I had not one but two friends swear that eating a real orange once a day helps keep the doctor away. (I always thought it was apples, but apparently oranges work too.) It’s not just a nice kick of vitamin C, but they are pretty darn yummy.

7. Eat ginger.

Instead of oranges, a couple of friends swore ginger helped. There are a couple of different options, you can just chew on a piece of fresh ginger each day, or you can make a tea by steeping a piece of ginger in hot water and adding a little honey. This is best for those who like the taste of ginger, otherwise you can always get supplements.

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8. Take probiotics.

Every time I put on Facebook that I have an illness, my dear friend and colleague Meredith Cohen Carroll writes in all caps, "TAKE DIGESTIVE PROBIOTICS." She’s right, totally right. All sorts of studies confirm that taking them daily helps with immunity. But I am just so bad at taking something everyday. Remembering to take a pill is far easier than dealing with being sick.

What do you do from avoiding getting sick?

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