There's an epidemic in our office.
Everywhere you look, folks are coughing, sneezing, and generally looking like they're about to fall over.
You might think it's just the flu getting everyone sick this season... and that makes sense given that early reports of the flu vaccine show low protection.
But as my franchise manager, Laura, learned, it isn't always the flu. She mistakenly thought she had the flu in late December... She had a fever, chills, and new symptoms each day. It turned out she had pneumonia instead.
That's why with so many folks staying inside and sharing the same air, we wanted to go over four ways to help protect yourself from getting sick...
1) Don't share food or drinks.
Eating and drinking from another person's utensils and glasses means you're also getting their saliva, and bits of their cells called fomites. Fomites are substances that can carry bacteria and viruses. Sharing drinking glasses or utensils is one of the quickest ways to get a cold, and you can also get strep throat, mumps, or even meningitis from doing this.
I used to be one of those folks who caught about three or four colds every winter. But once I stopped sharing my utensils or glasses with people, I cut my colds down to about one a year. And if I want to try my friend's food, I simply grab a clean fork.
2) Don't let others touch your phone.
It's a good idea to keep your cellphones away as well... Not only do they emit electromagnetic frequency radiation and blue light – both of which ruin our health – they're the most germ-riddled items in our homes.
You might remember one study we told you about from the University of Arizona that found cellphones carry 10 times as many bacteria as the average toilet seat.
Wipe them down with a microfiber cloth at least once a week. Don't take your phone into the bathroom with you. And make sure you don't let others touch your phone during this cold and flu season.
3) Do wash your hands... But don't use antibacterial soaps.
Each flu season, many folks reach for antibacterial soap to "protect themselves." Don't be one of them...
A study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy found that antibacterial soaps are no better at cleaning your hands than plain soap.
But here's the thing... antibacterial soap is worse than useless. It's dangerous.
Triclosan is the main ingredient that makes many of these products "antibacterial." It was in about three-quarters of liquid antibacterial soaps and one-third of bar soaps when we first wrote about this danger a few years ago. Since then, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned it in hand soap. That's because triclosan alters our hormones... and even interferes with heart function, leading to heart failure.
And remember, frequent hand washing is the best way to prevent any cold or flu – so make it a regular practice.
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4) Do make time to get active.
One of the best defenses to prevent colds and flu is a good workout. Moving your body helps move your immune cells around, specifically the white blood cells that fight disease.
In fact, in the journal Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science, the researchers discuss how moderate exercise boosts immune cells, but overtraining and overexertion actually impairs some of your cells.
We also know that stress causes disease. In fact, we wrote about how stress contributes to so many deaths during the holiday season. Exercise is a great stress-buster. It lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increases endorphins, which boost our mood.
So get off the couch this winter and fight colds before you get them with a brisk walk every day or other activity. If you're looking for some options to get started without paying for a gym membership, we've got more on that in our Weekly Update video, here.
Taking care of your body is crucial this time of year. Remember, if you're over 65, your immune system isn't as strong as it used to be. That puts you at higher risk and more vulnerable to complications and even death from the flu and pneumonia. Take the time to prevent these diseases and stay safe this winter.
What We're Reading...
- Something different: Is this the year Yellowstone erupts?
Here's to our health, wealth, and great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health and Wealth Bulletin Research Team
January 9, 2017