Parents, we know that your kids always come first and we love that about you; but this flu season there are some important actions that you can take to care for yourself so that you can keep your family healthy all winter long. After these tips become healthy habits in your daily routine, you and your family will be well-prepared for the cold months ahead. Better yet, many of these habits can be easily learned by your kiddos to join in the fight against the flu.
The best place to start is at the sink; good ol’ soap and water will protect you from germs found on every surface you touch. Next, protect yourself from the inside out by building up your immune system. Adding Zinc, Echinacea and garlic to your diet along with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables will operate as a 24/7 super team providing your body with valuable nutrients, while maintaining a strong immune system that is ready to fight against viruses. Zinc and Echinacea are commonly sold in pill form and can be taken first thing in the morning or right before bed. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) is eight milligrams per day. Garlic can easily be added as a spice in various meals or consumed raw, just make sure that you have a toothbrush and/or some mint gum close by! Keep your breath smelling fresh and the germs away by replacing your toothbrush every three months, or immediately after you recover from feeling under the weather.
Another integral part of building up your immune system stems from movement. We know fully that as parents, your schedules are filled to the brim with work, acting as taxi driver for your kids, running errands, cooking, cleaning, prepping, planning, etc. But, an hour of exercise at least three days a week or a half hour six days a week makes a world of a difference when it comes to keeping you well. The largest supporter of our body’s immune system is the lymphatic system. This system runs off of physical movement as it does not have an organ—like the heart—to pump the 600-plus bacteria fighting lymph nodes throughout the body. The more you exercise, the more effective the lymphatic system is at protecting your immune and digestive systems, keeping you feeling swell and well this year.
If you have tried everything and still can’t make it out of the house to work out in the midst of a chaotic day, get movement in at home while protecting your family. Jog around the house with a soapy washrag or disinfecting wipes and clean well-used surfaces such as doors, counters, cabinets, the refrigerator and toys while doing squats or one of your favorite workout routines.
On top of keeping your lymphatic system running effectively, exercise releases endorphins that relieve stress. High levels of stress run down your immune system and increase your risk for infection. To continue to relieve stress, allow your body to heal and rebuild muscle and to restore memory while you sleep. At the end of a long day, do yourself a favor and call it a night an hour or two earlier than you normally do. But, before your head hits the hay, get out the humidifier that you have hidden away, or stop by a local store to pick one up. Viruses thrive in dry air. Humidifiers add moisture to the air and stop viruses from multiplying and spreading throughout your home. Much like dry air, a dry mouth and throat also act as hotspots for viruses; this can be prevented by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Finally, if you suspect that one of the kids is coming down with something, don’t be afraid to keep them home from school or to cancel play dates. You will be protecting other children and your own child from germs while allowing them to rest, thus building up their immune system so they can get better as quickly as possible. During this time, protect the rest of your family by turning the child’s room in to a camp out, fort or castle for your little princess stocked with water, saltines or veggies and their favorite movies. This way your child can comfortably rest in their room and get better, while allowing you to check on them and also reducing the likelihood of the virus being passed from one family member to the next.
Want a fun way to teach your children about the flu and how to fight it? Check out these coloring books: In English (http://www.nfid.org/coloring-book) and in Spanish (http://www.nfid.org/coloring-book-spanish) or introduce them to the healthy habits that you have now created in your life.
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