As October breezes by with Halloween just a week or so away, it’s a good time to chat about preventing colds and flu. The number one method to preventing the spread of many viruses and infections is very simple: hand washing. This is an easy one, yet something that people often choose to eliminate from their health and wellness routine. In order for hand washing to be effective, lather hands with soap and rub together for at least 10 seconds before rinsing. Hand sanitizer is acceptable if soap and water is unavailable and in certain other circumstances. Visit this link: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/pdf/hand-sanitizer-factsheet.pdf for more information.
Can Acupuncture Help?
Acupuncture has multiple health benefits, including stress reduction, pain relief and strengthening the immune system. Regular acupuncture treatment as part of a holistic health and wellness plan, can help to prevent illness, including colds and flu. If a cold or the flu does occur, acupuncture can alleviate symptoms and accelerate the healing process. You might ask if it’s a good idea to visit your acupuncturist if you are sick with a severe cold or the flu. It usually is, if you want to become healthy faster. However, if you have a high fever, or are vomiting, you might want to reconsider and/or contact your acupuncturist if you aren’t sure. (As always, if you have a medical emergency, please go to your nearest emergency room or dial “911”.)
Prevention Via Nutrition
Keep your immunity strong with whole foods as you hopefully do throughout the year. This time of year, the orange and yellow squashes are especially nourishing: sweet potatoes (sans the marshmallows and brown sugar), acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash and zucchini are delicious choices. Some Eastern Nutrition strategies to consider include utilizing ginger in tea or include a few slices of raw ginger in soups and stews. Ginger has antimicrobial properties and has been proven to reduce prostaglandins, chemicals which are responsible for causing pain. If you do become ill, ginger also helps stop vomiting and quiets a cough. Another common type of food with healing properties in Eastern Nutrition is congee. Congee is basically a rice porridge made with a concentration of 1 part white rice to 5-6 parts water with some extra ingredients added in depending on the health condition. It is easily digestible and nourishing. For a basic congee recipe, follow this link: https://www.chinesemedicineliving.com/eastern-philosophy/winter-congee-recipe-for-colds-flu/.
Prevention Via Sleep
Don’t forget to allow for adequate sleep as the busy holiday season approaches. You may be tempted to shave off an hour or two as you add tasks to your “to do” list. However, subtracting sleep may equate to poorer health. Don’t risk it! You will be much more productive after a good night’s sleep. How much sleep is enough? New research shows that adults ages 18-64 need 7-9 hours nightly, and those 65 years and over need 7-8 hours nightly.
Prevention Via Physical Activity
It may be getting darker outside, but don’t let that prevent you from exercising. Regular exercise strengthens the body’s immune system! Always avoid sitting more than 15 minutes at a time. If you are used to a walking regime, plan it earlier in the day, or move it inside when the weather is inclement. If you have to sit at a desk and work, at least move your legs while using the computer so you aren’t sedentary. How much activity is too much? There is no such thing as too much! Aim for at least 30 minutes daily but more if possible.
As the cooler weather approaches, you can take steps to maintain your health and wellness and prevent colds and flu. Remember to take time for mindfulness each day to allow yourself to reconnect with your breath and let go of your daily stressors.
Until we chat again, be happy, healthy and cold and flu-free–