This post was sponsored by Bradley Corporation. Learn more at bradleycorp.com/handwashing. All opinions are my own.
As the cold weather kicks in, reality hits. It’s (sadly) cold & flu season! Yes, I love lounging on the couch when I’m not feeling well… but being sick is really, at the end of the day, just a nuisance! I get behind in my work, it’s stressful – it’s far from relaxing. So I do my best to ensuring I’m preventing colds and the flu in my household.
I’ve received so many questions about what to eat when you’re sick – and yes that is 100% an important question that I’ll talk about soon…
BUT – what may be even more important is preventing sickness! So I wanted to share with you my top tips for staying healthy so that you can avoid getting sick this year.
Remember, it’s also a good idea to get the seasonal flu vaccine each year. A simple flu shot will prepare your immune response and could prevent you from getting sick. Obviously, you should seek medical advice to understand the health benefits of any vaccination.
How To Avoid Getting Sick In Winter: 6 Steps to Avoid Getting Sick This Winter
Eat your vitamins
Vegetables – specifically non-starchy veggies – are rich in nutrients that can help fight disease and boost your immune system.
Different colors of veggies have different nutrients, and those different nutrients have different benefits. So try to eat a variety of colors of veg – for example, make a sheet pan dinner tonight of salmon and red bell peppers (red), carrots (orange), and broccoli (green).
If you do want an added boost, vitamins C, D, and zinc supplements may help reduce the risk of catching cold and other respiratory tract illnesses. Of course, always ask your doctor before taking anything new.
Get enough protein
The first thing we think of surrounding food & disease prevention is veggies – but did you know that protein plays a major role, too? Poultry – like chicken and turkey – is high in vitamin B-6, gelatin, chondroitin, and other nutrients, which are all helpful for immunity!
Chicken soup isn’t just for when you’re sick 🙂 Dice up some additional veggies that I mentioned above and add them to low-sodium chicken broth and some shredded chicken for a warm easy meal tomorrow night!
Water helps carry oxygen to cells, which helps our body systems function properly. It also helps remove toxins from the body. Set a reminder on your phone to drink at least 1 cup of water every few hours, or make a habit of drinking at least one glass of water before meals and snacks.
Wash your hands!
Here’s what I really want to focus on today 🙂 Washing your hands!
Did you know that thorough hand washing with soap and water is the best way to reduce the spread of the flu and other illnesses in the home and workplace (better than hand sanitizer) (1)?
I’m a pretty clean person, and Zak (my fiancé) is EXTRA on top of washing his hands – so it always surprises me when I’m in a public restroom and I watch someone leave their stall without going to the sink… yuck!
Here’s something really cool – Bradley Corporation actually administers and analyzes a survey each year (this year, conducted online between Dec. 11-16, 2019) surrounding hand washing practices, and I’m going to tell you a little about their results here (2)! Participants were from around the country, were 14 years and older, and were fairly evenly split between men and women (47 and 53 percent) (2).
What is Bradley Corporation? Great question! For nearly a century, Bradley Corporation has created the most complete and advanced commercial washrooms and comprehensive solutions that make industrial environments safe. They are the industry’s leading source for commercial plumbing fixtures, washroom accessories, restroom partitions, emergency fixtures and solid plastic lockers. Check them out on their website: bradleycorp.com/handwashing and on Facebook: facebook.com/BradleyCorporation
OK, back to the survey!
What they found this year was great news: 97% of survey respondents believe that it’s important to wash up after using a public restroom (2).
However… they also found that hand washing doesn’t happen all the time. Respondents said they washed their hands 86% of the time after using a public restroom. Gen Z (14-22 years old) was the least diligent at 82% (2). Boomers (55-73 years old) were the most consistent – they reported lathering up 91% of the time (2).
If you’re a Gen Z reading this… let’s bring up your Gen’s average, K?? 🙂
Unfortunately, there is also a “rinse-and-run” phenomenon. Two in three (67%) admit they’ve skipped the soap and simply rinsed their hands with water after using a public restroom (eek!) (2). Of all the age groups, Gen X (41-54 years old) is mostly likely to short cut hand washing with 73% admitting they’ve only rinsed their hands (2).
Something I do in a public restroom is try to avoid touching almost anything. Bradley Corp’s survey found that, just like me, 93% of Americans try to avoid coming in contact with germs by employing evasive measures in a public restroom (2). Two-thirds (65%) use a paper towel when touching door handles, faucets, or toilet flushers and 44% operate the toilet flusher with their foot (this is so me!) (2). If you don’t already use these tactics, try them next time you’re in a public restroom to reduce your exposure to germs.
So, what’s the best way to wash your hands, exactly?
The CDC says to follow these 5 steps (1):
“Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.”
So, what are some other ways to avoid spreading illness?
Aside from the bathroom – Bradley Corporation also found that nearly half of Americans do the following: wipe down bathroom (57%) and kitchen surfaces (51%), doorknobs (47%), and faucets (45%), and wash sheets and towels (46%) (2). AND – what I find really interesting! – that nearly all Americans (94%) change how they greet others, e.g. wave hello (54%) and avoid shaking hands (48%) (2).
So interesting, right?! Check out more hand washing info on Bradley Corporation at their website: bradleycorp.com/handwashing and on Facebook: facebook.com/BradleyCorporation – and see the infographic below that they created with their survey results. Implement them this flu season as often as you can!
Get enough sleep
Getting adequate sleep is extremely important – research actually shows that those who sleep 7 hours or less are more likely to succumb to a virus if exposed (3).
So we need 8+ hours of sleep ideally… what does this mean in practice? If you have to get up at 6am, set an alarm on your phone for 9:30pm the night before so you can be in bed by 10pm. Try not to bring your computer or phone to bed either – it keeps our brains active and makes it difficult to fall asleep.
Lower your stress
You’ve probably heard this one before – chronic mental stress is absolutely related to physical illness (4) as shown in a recent study in the journal from National Academy of Sciences. To lower your stress, make sure you get enough sleep (our #5 point here), ask for help when you need it so you’re not overworked, and try to incorporate some stretching, 5-minute meditation, or yoga throughout the week.
Want to dig more into this more? You can read about these studies, published in various journals and websites. Citations
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When and How to Wash Your Hands. https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html
The Bradley Corporation. Survey Bradley Corporation Healthy Handwashing Survey. bradleycorp.com/handwashing
JAMA Internal Medicine. Sleep Habits and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/414701
National Academy of Sciences. Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk. ://www.pnas.org/content/109/16/5995