Fall is upon us, which means cold and flu season is here. A proactive approach to warding off cold and flu can make your season a bit jollier. A few simple ways to prevent the sniffles this year include:
Regular Hand Washing – most cold and flu strains are spread by direct contact. By washing your hands regularly, it limits the exposure to this nasty bug. It is also a good idea to wipe down the areas used the most, such as the phone, the computer and desk tops.
Daily Exercise – exercise increases the number of natural killer cells in the body, which is an important part of immune function.
Cut Alcohol Consumption – alcohol suppresses immune function and causes dehydration. Heavier drinkers are more prone to initial infections.
Relax – relaxation, including meditation can improve immune function by increasing the level of interleukins in the body. Interleukins are one of the body’s main defenses against cold and flu viruses.
Optimize Vitamin D Levels – low vitamin D levels have been directly linked to an increase in susceptibility for cold and flu infections. Vitamin D causes an upregulation in the levels of antimicrobial peptides in the body, which act as the body’s natural antibiotics. It is a great idea to have your vitamin D levels checked at the beginning of each flu season. If levels are suboptimal, then adequate supplementation can aid to ward off those pesky viruses.
Decrease Sugar Intake – consumption of sugar directly impacts the immune system by decreasing the responsiveness of neutrophils. Neutrophils are a part of the front line defense and act quickly to control infection. They are able to signal other immune cells to the point of infection and inflammation and can even eat pathogens, known as phagocytosis. So this holiday season, limit those sugary treats and swap them for a healthier alternative, such as natural sweetners, including xylitol and stevia. This can make for a healthier and happier holiday season.
Healthy Holiday Eggnog Cookie:
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup coconut sugar or Xylitol
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup soy nog or rice nog (alternatives to Eggnog)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, mix butter an sugar or xylitol until creamy, add egg, vanilla and eggnog alternative; mix well. Add flour mixture and stir until well blended. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface and cut out cookies with a fun holiday cookie cutter. Place 2 ” apart on un greased cookie sheet. Bake approx. 8 – 12 minutes or until golden brown at edges.