Tuesday, February 6, 2018

10 Ways to Stay Healthy at Work During Cold and Flu Season

By Robin Thomas

It’s been a particularly virulent cold and flu season this year, and we are particularly susceptible to those nasty viruses when we work in a busy office. As a chorus of coughs and sneezes surround you, there are still ways to help you avoid getting sick, or at least feel better more quickly. 
1.   Keep Your Desk Clean: the workplace is a hotbed of germs, most of which you don’t have direct control. But you can keep your own area clean even without annoying your neighbors by constantly spraying disinfectants. Use a microfiber cloth and water instead.

2.   Wash Your Hands: Need I say more? We all learned this in kindergarten.

3.   Get Enough Sleep: Be sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep, especially in the winter. When you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system doesn’t function as well and the more likely you are to decrease your body’s ability to respond to colds or flu.

4.   Stay Hydrated: Reduce the number of caffeinated drinks, including coffee. Drink plenty of water and try replacing your coffee with green tea, especially in the afternoon. Green tea has been shown to improve immunity against influenza viruses.

5.   Vitamin D: People who have lower vitamin D levels report higher instances of respiratory infections such as colds and flu.  One of the easiest ways to increase your vitamin D levels is to spend some time in the sun. Unfortunately, that is not easy during the short winter days. Supplementing with a quality vitamin D3 supplement is usually necessary to improve immune function. It is best to have your vitamin D levels tested to determine how much you should supplement. 

6.   Take Care of Your Gut: This actually may be one of the most important ways to improve your immunity to colds and flu. Seventy to eighty percent of our working immune system is found in our gut.

a.  What we eat makes a huge difference in our gut health. If you want to stay healthy, this is not the time for junk food from the vending machine. Pack soups or salads filled with vegetables to munch on through the day.

b.  Add some fermented foods or drinks to boost the good bacteria in your gut. Kombucha and kefir are good to sip. Fermented foods such as tempeh, miso and sauerkraut are great if you like them. I love fermented cucumber pickles.  

c.   If you don’t like the taste of fermented foods, purchase a good probiotic.  I recommend the USANA Probiotic powder that contains Lactobacillus Rhamnosus LGG® and Bifidobacterium BB-12®, two strains of specific probiotic bacteria clinically proven to survive the harsh acidic environment of the stomach. The individual stick packs make it easy to keep in your desk.

7.  Move Your Body: Don’t simply hibernate over the winter. Keep moving with some type of moderate exercise. Set an alarm every two to three hours at work to stand up, stretch, and get some water. Take a walk during your lunch break or after work. If you brought a healthy lunch, you won’t waste time waiting in line to purchase food.

8.   Elderberry: Elderberry extracts have been shown to decrease both symptoms and shorted the duration of many varieties of flu. Whenever I feel like I’m coming down with a cold or other respiratory virus, I take an immune boosting powder that contains Vitamin C ascorbates, Zinc, Echinacea and Elderberry extracts.

9.   Decrease Your Stress: Find healthy ways to decrease your negative response to stress. Take a deep breath deep into your lungs and release it slowly. Taking even 1 minute to close your eyes and concentrate on your breath will decrease your stress level. (Use the timer on your phone) Consider joining a mind/body exercise such as yoga after a stressful day at work.  

10. Bring Out the Big Guns: A number of years ago I discovered a product from USANA that works wonders to boost immunity and reduce inflammation. It also acts as a natural anti-histamine, without the drowsiness of common cold medicines. Called Proflavanol ® C100, it has become my go-to remedy to avoid or shorten the cold or flu.  

So even though it’s quite difficult to avoid sick co-workers during the cold and flu season, there are ways to reduce the chance of getting sick yourself, if you follow at least 5 of the above ways to stay healthy. 

Robin is the founder of Living Well Connections, a community of supportive people who are passionate about improving their health and the health of their families.

Her background in medical research on inflammation and 13 years with USANA Health Sciences has given her a unique insight on helping individuals find the best solutions to support their own health needs.

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