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Prevention is better than cure

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It’s very common to hear the phrase ‘I’m not feeling fine,’ from friends and work colleagues. It’s so frequent with some people that I wonder if they can tell the difference between being ill and just tired. However, assuming the individual isn’t faking it, there are certain lifestyle choices that can help prevent the onset of the ‘sniffles.’ A lot of people just don’t realise that poor habits can result in being stuck in bed battling a fever, which is no joke. Here are some suggestions:

Sleep

Not getting enough sleep has been linked to a laundry list of mental and physical health problems, including suppression of the immune system. Although scientists currently have no real explanation for how sleep is related to immune function, it’s clear that those who sleep less are more prone to infection. If you’re finding yourself getting inexplicably sick, you may want to re-evaluate your sleeping habits.

Hygiene

Although cold and flu viruses are most commonly spread from person-to-person, indirect transmission can be responsible for spreading sickness as well. This is because cold and flu viruses can survive outside the body for several hours or even days. This makes commonly touched surfaces, such as counter tops, faucets, telephones, and doorknobs germ cesspools. To stop the spread, sanitise common surfaces thoroughly and often.

Alcohol

Alcohol weakens your immune system; cigarettes weaken your immune system; illicit drugs weaken your immune system; and, we’ve already told you that a lack of sleep weakens your immune system. We’re not out to judge, but if you’re partying hard, chances are that you’ll be indulging. If you choose to get funky on a Friday night, be aware that you’re doing so in an environment where anyone could be sick.

Sharing is not always caring

As a child, you were probably taught the value of sharing and the happiness it brings. Now, as an adult, you’ll learn that the opposite holds true. Sharing food, drinks, cigarettes, toothbrushes or other oral items is a sure way to spread sickness, so ditch the playground mentality and be a little selfish sometimes. Your immune system will thank you.

Drink water

Although drinking plenty of fluids is a key strategy to fighting illness once you’re actually sick, staying hydrated may actually help you prevent illness as well. Our bodies are over 60 per cent water. Water transports nutrients to cells and flushes out toxins, so do yourself a favour and get hydrated.

Get your fruit and veggies

Every day, your immune system silently fights off infection without you ever noticing. To keep your immune system primed to fight infection, you’ll need a healthy diet of vitamins and minerals. Because the jury is still out on exactly which nutrients help the most, it’s best to consume a variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure that you’re covered. As a general rule of thumb, stick to darker or more colourful fruits and veggies since these tend to be loaded with the most nutrients.

Get moving

Not only does exercise make you look and feel great, but a ton of recent research also suggests that frequent and regular exercise, at least aerobic exercise, helps boost the immune system. Although it’s not entirely clear how regular exercise helps, the preventative benefits of exercise may be due to its anti-inflammatory effects. Exercise helps reduce inflammatory molecules that are known to impair the immune system.

Avoid other sick people

This tip is so simple that it needs little explanation. If you’re invited to a house and half your friends are flu-stricken, take a rain check. If you’re deafened by the sound of sniffling co-workers, stick to your own desk and sanitise your hands often. Almost all strains of cold and flu viruses spread from direct human contact, so avoiding those who are sick will go a long way in keeping you healthy.

Stop touching your face

The face is where germs enter your body. Simple as that. But the number of ways the cold and flu virus can enter your body through your face may come as a surprise. We’re all aware that we can get sick by breathing in airborne droplets of someone who sneezed (the joys of public transport, eh), but pesky cold and flu viruses can also invade through other secret entry ways, like your eyes. To ensure that all ports are closed: Don’t pick your nose, don’t lick your fingers and don’t rub your eyes. Don’t touch your face!

Wash your hands

You’ve heard it time and time again, and now it’s time to hear it once more: If you want to prevent colds and the flu, just wash your hands. Unless you live in a wood hut somewhere in a remote village, chances are that you’re going to pick up some live virus on your hands at some point in your day, especially if cold and flu viruses are circulating. So, before you touch your face and let these viruses in to feast, just wash your hands. And don’t be a slouch about it. Use warm water and wash thoroughly, for at least 15 seconds. Easy, right?

Of course, we know this doesn’t apply to the dreaded Malaria, which every doctor in Nigeria seems to attribute to everything, even a sprained ankle. The idea is just not to take any chances…be well.



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