Good afternoon students! I hope you are doing well and keeping healthy as this semester comes to a close. It is crazy to think that some of you may be just finishing up your very first year here, while for some of you it may be your very last! Or, you may even be in between! Whatever stage you're in, remember how important it is to take care of yourself during times of high stress, especially during flu season! I know that life can get extremely busy during this time of year, so that is why I am here to give you a few tips on how to keep healthy and keep your body running at optimal levels. So, without further ado, I bring to you my very last blog post of the semester (not to worry though—I will be back next year!)
1. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
One of the best preventative methods to stop yourself from getting sick is sleep! Now I know you may be thinking, 'Well I already do sleep at night', but I don’t mean just a few hours. When I say get enough sleep, I mean get the suggested amount of sleep for your age group! Typically, as a student, you should be getting approximately seven to nine hours of sleep per night to function at your best the next day. Sleep is extremely important for the immune system, as without enough of it, the immune system becomes weaker and you are more susceptible to catching a virus when exposed to it. Studies have shown that people who don't get enough sleep actually have higher levels of inflammation throughout their body, creating greater stress on the body. Not only is it important to get enough sleep to prevent getting sick, it also is important to help heal your body when it is sick!
2. WATCH YOUR DIET
Another obvious point to prevent you from getting sick is to watch what you are eating. There are many not-so-healthy foods, such as that new burger at your fav fast food place down the street you've been craving, but remember—balance is key! While it is okay to indulge at times, remember that unhealthy eating all the time can also weaken the immune system, causing you to be more susceptible to illness. With that being said, there are a plethora of tasty, healthy foods that actually act to strengthen the immune system and can significantly decrease the chance of you picking up a virus at work or school! Here is a list that I have compiled of some of my fav foods to eat when I feel a cold coming on or that tingle in my throat:
- Citrus fruits such as grapefruit, oranges or limes. These fruits are great as they contain vitamin C that increases the production of white blood cells in our body, to help fight infections.
- Broccoli is packed with vitamins as well as antioxidants and fiber, making it one of the most healthy vegetables you can have!
- Yogurt is a great source of probiotics and can help to stimulate the immune system to help fight infection. Yogurt can also be a great source of vitamin D, which helps to regulate the immune system and boost natural defense against disease.
- Almonds contain vitamin E and healthy fats that aid in the prevention of infection, and are one of my favourite foods!
3. PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
This point should be no real surprise for anyone out there looking for ways to prevent the flu or common cold this season. Regular physical activity, more specifically 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week, has a plethora of benefits on our bodies, including on the immune system. Not only can physical activity help to prevent diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases, it can help in the prevention and fighting of the common cold or flu bug. When you exercise, you are increasing the circulation and blood flow throughout the body which allows immune components to be better circulated as well. This allows the key players in the immune system, the white bloods cells, to have a better chance at finding an illness and fighting it off before it spreads! While any type of exercise is of benefit, studies have displayed that intense exercise is key for preventing the flu and common cold, but do so with safety in mind. Remember, exercise is a form of medicine!
4. GET YOUR FLU SHOT
The last, but not least, tip to prevent getting the flu this flu season is to get your flu shot! I know, you may not have time to fit in a 10-minute appointment at the doctor's office, but if you don’t have time for that then you definitely do not have time to be sick! By getting your flu shot, you are strengthening your body's immune system so that if it does happen to come in contact with the flu virus that it is specific for, your body will already have generated a response and is more effective when fighting the virus. The flu shot is offered at basically all health centres, or even some drug stores, such as Shoppers Drug Mart. Most importantly, and most conveniently, the Campus Health Centre here at the university offers the flu shot for all students free of charge! All you need to do is call 905.721.3037 or stop by the centre during their operating hours of Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to inquire about getting your flu shot.
So my fellow students, to sum up the main message of this post, keep healthy and happy by adhering to these simple tips and get your flu shot at the Campus Health Centre today!
Best of luck on all of your final exams and assignments, and I look forward to reconnecting with you in the new school year!