Boosting Your Immune System

This time of year it's common for people to miss days of work or school because of colds and flu. There are many contributing factors to this phenomenon, including the weather, shorter days (less hours of daylight), increased contact with other people during the holidays, more time spent inside and more. We often get asked: "how can I avoid getting sick this time of year?"

There are various ways to prevent sickness, and we are going to focus on the things you can do at home. This means 2 things: decreasing your contact with "germs" (bacteria & viruses that cause sickness) and strengthening your immune system (your body's natural defense system that fights the illness once you've had contact).

Hand-washing is one of the top recommendations for avoiding sickness. We will come in contact with many bacteria and viruses during the day, through contact with other people and touching things that other people have touched. Door handles, railings, items in stores, tables and electronics at work or school... our hands are constantly picking up germs left by other people. Although we can't fully avoid this, we can remove many of those pathogens before we put our hands on our face, in our mouth/eyes or touch anything around the house to pass them on. Washing your hands when you get home from work, school or shopping is important. If you are in contact with people during the day, make sure to wash your hands often and in between, and definitely after you use the washroom. Soap and water are good, and rubbing your hands together well is effective for removing the germs. This is one of your best defenses for preventing illness-causing bacteria from getting inside of you.

We can't prevent every last microbe from getting into our bodies. So what happens once they're there?! Our body has a built-in defense system, called our Immune System, that works 24 hours a day to fight pathogens once they're inside. How well our immune system works, though, depends on many factors including things we can do to take care of it. Things that significantly boost your immune system function: 1) Sleep - as much as you need, 2) Healthy Food - fruits & vegetables, 3) less Stress - decreasing the source or learning ways to manage it. I'm sure you've noticed that if you are missing any of these things you are more likely to get sick. Our body has the best chance of fighting illness if the immune system is working at maximum capacity.

Make your health a priority and you will avoid getting sick during this year's 'cold and flu season'. Wishing you good health in 2018!

Taia Spencer-Yap