Getting Sick is NOT FUN!

By: Jennifer Schleman   Date: 1/26/10 

Last fall shortly after reading our Putting the BRAT on a Diet post, I came down with the dreaded flu. Not the H1N1 variety, but the good, old-fashioned, upper respiratory influenza.

It got me thinking - what could I have done to prepare myself for cold and flu season? And now that I had the flu, what could I do to help me quickly get back on my feet? I asked several of my colleagues, and here are a few tips.

To help prepare for possible illnesses:

1. Eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. By eating a healthful diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables, you will get all of the nutrients, including disease-fighting antioxidants, needed to help keep your immune system humming. For a list of functional food components and in what foods they can be found, check out our Backgrounder on Functional Foods.
2. Get plenty of and regular sleep. Aim for eight hours of sleep a night. "Running on empty" or "making up" for lost sleep is a sure way to decrease your body's ability to fight off pesky cold and flu germs.
3. Get off the couch. Exercise is provides a natural boost to your immunity. As little as 30 minutes most days of moderate exercise can help keep your body running.
4. Manage your stress. Like lack of sleep, stress causes our natural immunity to falter. Whether it's taking a few minutes for yourself, breathing exercises, yoga or meditation, learn how to deal with stressors in your life.

So what should you do if, like me, you catch the flu or a bad cold?

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Especially if you have a fever, you need to keep drinking or eating fluids to prevent dehydration. Water is good, but don't forget about hydrating foods - soups, fruits, smoothies and even popsicles can help you stay hydrated. See Hydration: Does it Always Have to be Water?
2. Get some rest. Take the time off work and rest. It's the best way to help your body fight the cold or flu virus. Plus, if you are running a fever, you shouldn't return to work until 24 hours AFTER the fever is gone. So take it easy! Catch-up on your DVR programming or watch a movie. Your body needs a break. Plus your co-workers will thank you for not sharing your germs.
3. Eat those fruits and vegetables. Whether you are feeling well or are sick, you need good fuel to help re-build your immunity and fight your cold or flu. By eating a balanced diet, your body can use the nutrients to help get back to top condition more quickly.

So I have been trying to live by the tips above, and guess what. I've not come down with any severe colds or flu since! So, what do you do to help keep your immunity in fighting form? Let me know in the comments and together we can help each other stay healthy and happy during cold and flu season!