If you have children, you know there are many stomach bugs, along with the flu, to contend with in winter.
These illnesses are usually extremely contagious, which means the entire family can get them.
There are many simple steps to take to boost your immune system, and nearly all of them can be done immediately.
First of all, stay hydrated. Water is essential to the body for numerous reasons. If you happen to be ill, water helps flush out toxins.
Children and the elderly are often the most challenged when it comes to making sure they get enough water, so make sure to stay on top of this.
Another step is to make sure everybody increases their intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.
When it comes to children, make sure you have snacks ready to go.
When little ones are hungry, they want their fix quickly. Try to have a healthy snack of cut-up fruits and vegetables on the ready when they get home from school and for after dinner.
Boost your intake of foods high in antioxidants. Those include bell peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cantaloupe, grapes, kale, kiwi, mangoes, peaches, spinach, strawberries, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and watermelons.
Make fruit smoothies using a combination of fruits and vegetables with some vanilla soy milk and protein powder.
Of course, soups are a terrific way to get several servings of vegetables in one bowl.
Minerals and proteins are essential to a healthy immune system.
Consume 100 percent whole wheat breads and cereals, legumes, lean red meat, nuts, eggs, poultry, white meat turkey and seafood.
In addition, get plenty of essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, found in fatty fish or take a supplement.
Get the entire family on board. Making dietary and health-type changes in your life is next to impossible without a support system.
They may not come on board willingly at first. But remember, it’s for their own good.
Get plenty of regular exercise. Buy a pedometer and strive to get 10,000 steps at least five days a week.
Here is an all important one — get enough sleep.
Most adults do not get enough sleep and this eventually will take its toll on the immune system.
Children, especially teenagers, often are not getting their fill of quality shuteye. Try to limit caffeine after lunch and drink caffeine-free herbal teas instead.
As with many matters, ask a doctor about taking a multi-vitamin or other supplements.
Many health experts also suggest other vitamins to help boost the immune system. They include vitamins A, C, D and E, zinc and magnesium.
Don’t neglect your hobbies and other things that relieve stress.
Believe it or not, making time for leisure may also help your overall health.
This knowledge helps me not feel guilty for taking time off to read a good book or bake cookies.
Wash your hands frequently, especially after being out in public places.
Keep anti-bacterial wipes or gel in your car. Send extra bottles and wipes to your child’s school classroom.
Spend a few minutes every day in quiet prayer, meditation and/or reflection.
Not pausing or taking a break from your busy day causes stress, which numerous studies suggest can take its toll on the body.
Last, but not least, keep a positive attitude and outlook on life. Stress and worry can make you sick. If you have gotten into a rut, now is the time to figure out what makes you happy and go do it.
Go on a walk with a friend. Join a support group. Do community service. Nothing brings joy quite like that you receive when helping others.
Adlen Robinson is author of "Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home." E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.