6 Simple Reminders to Prepare Your Immune System for the Winter
Reminder # 1: Wash your hands
Pretty obvious right! According to the World Health Organization, one of the easiest ways that viruses and bacteria can be acquired and transferred is through the hands! Taking the time to clean your hands is vitally important to protect your immune system
Alcohol-based formulation is best used, especially if your hands are not visibly soiled.
Good ol' soap and water is best used when your hands are visibly dirty. Make sure to count to 30 and get under those nails!
Are you a face toucher? Well you are probably at increased risk of getting sick! Stop to touching!
Don't forget all the electronics you have! Use antiseptic cleanser regularly.
Reminder # 2: Eat fresh and Nutritious Foods
Again obvious! (remember these are REMINDERS) Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables helps to build and maintain a strong immune system as recommended by Canada's Food Guide.
A simple way to remember how much to eat is to remember the plate method: 50% of your plate should consist of fresh vegetables, 25% protein and the last 25% your grains. (see picture above)
You may want to consider taking a regular multivitamin if you are not getting the proper nutrition.
Don't forget water! Average recommended intake is between 2-3 L per day for a healthy adult.
Reminder # 3: Regular Exercise
Its recommended to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous activity divided into sessions of 10 minutes or more, as recommended by the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology.
Make it fun, and find ways to commit! Start with a friend or coworker OR it may be more motivating to join a group fitness club, or a recreational league so that you can stay committed to exercising.
Reminder # 4: Get plenty of Rest
The Public Health Agency of Canada suggest that adults should be getting a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sleep to keep a properly functioning immune system.
Avoid food and drink too late in the day such as: alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine
Limit your naps, as this can affect your night sleep
Prepare for bed by: turning off anything stimulating (i.e. electronics, lights, etc). Might be helpful to read a book!
Try to keep a sleep routine
If dealing with stress or mental health issues: practice relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing
Review medications with your family Nurse Practitioner / Physician, or pharmacist regularly - this can be a potential source of wakeful nights
Reminder # 5: Update your Immunizations
Immunizations are safe and effective. Recommended by health organizations all over the world. Protecting yourself from preventable disease is a health hack to building your immunity. For example, before the advent of the varicella immunization, acquiring chicken pox was common place - and now it is virtually non-existent in populations with high immunization rates! If you have questions or are hesitant with immunizations, talk with a health-care professional!
Tips for common routine immunizations (Public Health Agency of Canada):
Diphtheria and Tetanus - every 10 years
Herpes zoster (shingles) - 1 dose at 60+ years (may be given between 50 and 59 years)
Influenza (flu) - every year
Pertussis (whooping cough) - 1 dose as an adult and during each pregnancy
Pneumococcal - 1 dose at 65+ years
Immunizations are easily accessible through medical offices, pharmacies and public health offices
Reminder # 6: Visit your Family Nurse Practitioner / Physician regularly if you have concerns
Annual check-ups are a thing of the past, especially if you healthy and feeling well. Though if you have hit the age of 40+ or if you have lingering medical issues - a regular visit is still recommended for a health check-up.
Thank you for reading
At HomeHealth NP in addition to providing medical care, we are using our position in the community to educate the public about their health and how Nurse Practitioners can be a part of the solution.
Marvin de Castro, RN MN NP
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