Stop the Sickness Cycle

Although flu season starts in the fall, most people come down with the virus in January or February, according to the CDC. Most seemingly innocent habits can make or break your health. Here are ones
worth keeping and those to avoid. Do allow yourself ample rest. People who get less than 8 hours of nightly shut-eye are more at risk of contracting colds and flu, experts say. While you snooze, your immune system works to produce cytokines, infection fighting proteins. Your body makes less of those compounds during periods of sleep deprivation.

Do break a sweat. A small but consistent amount of exercise – 30 minutes per day – can ramp up immunity. Experts suspect that during a moderate workout immune cells circulate through the body faster, making them better able to kill bacteria and viruses.

Do squash the stress in your life. Chronic tension can cause your body to pump out hefty amounts of hormone cortisol, weakening your natural defenses. Unwind with deep breathing during the day and a good book at night.

Don’t go overboard on the sweet stuff. Eating sugar laden food can decrease your immunity, setting the stage for sickness. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that taking in 100 grams of sugar significantly hampered infection-fighting white blood cells for up to 5 hours.

Don’t eat a lot of dairy. Feel a cold coming on? Dodge the milk products. Although foods such as milk and cheeses are filled with bone-building calcium, their proteins can make existing phlegm thicker and more irritating to throat and sinus passages. That can lead to uncomfortable upper-respiratory symptoms, like coughing, and cause clogging which sets the stage for a painful sinus or throat infection.