How we're staying healthy during cold and flu season.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I know this is a bit of a different post than I normally write, but I've been learning a lot recently in my various science classes about disease prevention, so I thought it might be appropriate as we're heading into cold and flu season. All these little tips are in addition to a healthy diet, which is the very best way to stay healthy.

1. Wash your hands with soap and water. I know this is very obvious, but in the antibacterial hand gel craze, it may not be so obvious. While hand sanitizer works well if you have no access to soap and water, and while it does kill most microbes, it doesn't physically destroy them and wash them away from the skin's surface like soap and water does. Most hand sanitizers are composed of mostly alcohol (60-95%) which does destroy bacteria, but it also strips away the outermost layer of skin and dries out your hands (which has to do with point #2). Also, the CDC notes that the most common infections are typically viral (not bacterial) and therefore are not killed by the active ingredients in hand gel. Bottom line? Use hand sanitizer in a pinch, but not as a replacement for good ole soap and water.

2. Moisturize your hands. Your skin is your number one protection against disease. So we have to be careful when we have wounds or openings to the skin that allow bacteria or viruses direct access to our bodies. In the winter, when your hands get really dry and sometimes crack, those little cracks are a weak spot for your immune system because they allow microbes in. No wonder it's so much easier to get sick in the dry winter, right? So keeping them moisturized protects them (and you) from disease.

3. Elderberry syrup. It's our new secret weapon. I learned about it a year or so ago on Passionate Homemaking and Shawn and I have used it with a lot of success. This Fall and Winter, we'll be taking one teaspoon of it every morning as an immunity booster. Also, if you're at the beginning of a cold or infection, you can take 1 teaspoon every 2-3 hours and you'll get over it much quicker. It's powerful stuff! We had been buying bottles of it from Whole Foods, but just recently started making our own (which is much cheaper) with this tutorial from Mountain Rose Herbs, which is where I buy our elder berries. It's all natural, works amazingly well to fight cold and flu, and actually tastes really good. I think kids would really love it! Try it out!

What are some tips you have on staying healthy during the cold/flu season?

P.S. Our new Champion juicer just arrived in the mail, so I may be posting some fruit/vegetable juice recipes soon. Any of you have yummy ones we should try?


  1. elderberry syrup?! never heard of it. is it sweet?! it sounds yummy. i miss living near you and getting to try all your delicious concoctions.

    what do i do?! lots of vitamin C and OJ. hehe. oh and lots of sleep. i get to sleep more now that im home, so i haven't gotten the flu...yet.

    love ya!

  2. Never heard of the elderberry syrup! Thanks for making washing your hands front and center. It's really gross what people will do without washing their hands either before or after.

    I also make a run of knobs and handles with some type of disinfecting wipe. Door handles, drawer pulls, the fridge handle, coffee maker...just to keep everything germ-ish free!!!

    Oh...and I'm a believer in flu shots. I know people have differing opinions on all types of shots, but I got the flu one year in high school. I was absolutely miserable for 2 weeks. I get a flu shot every year now, and so far, have been flu free.

  3. i love this post! we use elderberry syrup too though i've never made my own! my 'once i already have the cold' go to is congaplex by standard process. it is the best best best vitamin to get rid of colds- if i take it religiously (3 of them 3x a day) my colds are 2 days tops.

  4. Yep, you're in Microbiology . . . and it's rubbing off. :)
    From the hand washing to the syrup making . . .
    Love you!

  5. Funny, I just used hand sanitizer this weekend. Since I live in Guatemala, sometimes I don't have water at my house, so I have to go use hand sanitizer.

    I definitely want to try that syrup!


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