The Covid-19 pandemic has made us very aware of viruses and how easily they can spread. Flu viruses can survive on surfaces for about 24 hours, which gives them plenty of time to spread. Just one sick person can easily pass on an illness to a whole family. Now more than ever, we need to use all possible measures to protect ourselves against viruses. Here are some tips and tricks for more protection for you and your family.
Strengthen your immune system
Your immune system consists of an army of white blood cells, antibodies and other mechanisms that quickly go into action in response to infection.
What you choose to eat can strengthen your immune system. You need to eat food in all the colors of the rainbow to get a wide range of vitamins and minerals. For example, green, leafy vegetables are rich in vitamins that help to support the immune system.
Your immune system will also be stronger if you get enough quality sleep. The body releases cytokines, a type of protein, while you sleep, and they help the body fight infections by regulating the immune system.
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your exposure to viral infections because it damages cells that are a vital component of the immune system.
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Practice good hygiene
Washing your hands is one of the simplest and most effective ways to protect yourself from infectious illnesses. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, especially after touching public surfaces like door handles, railings, or tables and chairs. Always wash your hands before preparing or eating food.
Other good hygiene tips include:
- Avoid touching your mouth, eyes or nose with unwashed hands because viruses can enter your body this way and start reproducing.
- Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol helps when you’re on the go.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue if you cough or sneeze.
- Disinfect any shared surfaces, such as keyboards, door knobs or remote controls.
Manage your stress
For years doctors have suspected there may be a connection between stress and physical illness. The constant release of cortisol in people who suffer from stress can result in a decreased ability to fight inflammation and illness.
Following a regular exercise routine does more than just keep you fit. It reduces stress by releasing endorphins which create a feeling of wellbeing. It keeps inflammation at bay and accelerates the circulation of white cells, which help to fight viruses like the common cold.
Other stress reduction activities include mindfulness, yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and music therapy.
Limit or avoid close contact with sick people
You can avoid the spread of viruses by avoiding contact with sick people. To avoid sharing germs, it is important to keep items like toothbrushes, towels, utensils and drinking glasses separate. Wash contaminated items in hot, soapy water. When in doubt, opt for disposable drinking cups, utensils, and so on.
Designate a room in your house for the sick person and a separate bathroom if possible to limit any family interaction. Consider alternative ways of communication, like using WhatsApp or Facetime. It can be hard to avoid interacting with a sick child, but just remember to wash your hands thoroughly before and after contact. Wearing a face mask while in contact can help minimize the chance of catching the virus through the air.
Consider taking vitamin supplements
Zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc are essential vitamins for immune function. There is strong evidence to suggest that vitamin D, in particular, can protect against upper respiratory infections. Many people have difficulty getting adequate vitamin D because it is difficult to obtain from diet alone.
Smokers are at risk of lower levels of vitamin C and may have to supplement it daily. Zinc deficiency can impair immune function because it is necessary to develop lymphocytes that fight infection. A Zinc supplement can help. Before taking any supplements, consult with your health care practitioner to make sure what you want to take doesn’t interfere with other medications you take.
You can’t protect yourself against every single virus, but there are steps you can take if you want to increase your protection. If you follow a healthy lifestyle such as eating a balanced diet, getting enough exercise, and having quality sleep, your immune system will be stronger and can help prevent you from getting sick.