As summer recedes into the rearview mirror, fall seems just around the corner. For many, the changing of seasons signals a time where children go back to school, the daytime gets shorter, and the weather makes a cooler turn as the winter months approach. This is also a time where protecting your immune system is vital for your health and the health of your community.
Surfaces, Germs, People, and More Germs!
Most people tend to focus on kids spreading germs in school, but the reality is, adults—especially older citizens—need to understand the importance of good sanitation and immune system protection just as much as their younger counterparts.
One of the easiest—yet often overlooked—ways of keeping clean is habitually washing your hands. Have a family of four? That’s eight hands touching the same doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, remote controls, light switches, and more. Frequent hand washing throughout the day defends against spreading germs and bacteria. And while public drinking fountains are traditional staples at many schools, gyms, and parks, they can also harbor germs. Getting in the habit of using a personal water bottle can eliminate the need for community sharing (and the spreading of germs) at places like drinking fountains or faucets. Carrying tissues and hand sanitizers, as well as properly learning how to cover a sneeze (if no tissue is available, use the crook of your elbow) can be crucial steps in teaching children how to stay healthy for their own sake and for the people around them.
The Health of Your Community Starts with You
Seasonal changes can often put added stress on your immune system, so here are some personal tips for protecting your immune health:
- Eat a well-balanced diet – Research indicates that proper nutrition helps strengthen your immune system.
- Get plenty of restful sleep – While you sleep your immune system is busy rebuilding and repairing itself.
- Wash your hands regularly – Proper hand washing with water and soap is the most effective barrier against the spread of germs. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends rubbing your hands for an average of 20 seconds.
- Build up healthy intestinal bacteria – Good bacteria help keep bad bacteria at bay as 70% of the immune system resides in your large intestine.
- Protect your living area – When cooking, be aware of cross contamination, look out for areas of mold in your house, and keep surface areas (doorknobs, tables, bathroom tiles, and kitchen countertops) clean.
Building up your immune system should be a daily priority. Being aware of personal hygiene can be the difference between a healthy community and a common illness. You can’t always be sure when you are completely protected from microscopic immune system zappers, but you can help defend against their spreading by taking the necessary steps to protect your immune system by practicing better cleanliness habits.