With cold and flu season ahead, most of us are bracing ourselves for months of sniffles, upset tummies, and the sharing of all the germs. But, perhaps you’ve noticed that you keep getting sick and it’s not during a typical peak illness season. What’s the deal?

Common Reasons You Might Keep Getting Sick and What To Do About It

The problem: Your diet is lacking in nutrients.1

The solution: Food is a great medicine, so add more color to your diet if you want to prevent yourself from getting sick.

Adding a ton of fruits and veggies to your diet is the best way to support your immunity, year-round. Why? They’re packed with potent plant compounds like vitamin C, carotenoids, and antioxidants, as well as vitamins and minerals that all work together to help stave off illness.

Fruits and veggies are also full of anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and disease-fighting properties. During off-seasons, you can continue to incorporate some of your favorite produce by finding them frozen or canned.

The problem: Your immune system needs some extra support.

The solution: Take an immune-boosting supplement to add an extra, concentrated source of nutrition to your daily routine. For instance, All Day Energy Greens, which is full of organic greens like alfalfa, wheatgrass, and spirulina and made without chemical additives, preservatives, fillers, or artificial flavoring.

The problem: You’ve become more sedentary than usual.

The solution: Stay physically active. This doesn’t mean you have to run or lift weights every morning, unless that’s your thing. It just means that doing something active most days of the week, if not every day, is a great way to keep your body in its top fighting shape.2 Even something as simple as going for a brisk walk, taking a yoga class, or going for a bike ride are excellent ways to keep the blood flowing.

The problem: You’re not drinking enough fluids.

The solution: Keep yourself hydrated to help flush out toxins. Hydration is key, as your body is made of 50-65% water. Even mild dehydration can lead to a lessened immune system.3

The problem: You’re stressed out, anxious, or depressed.4

The solution: Practice stress management. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and carry around a bunch of stress today. Everyone is busy, and we try to do everything at once, especially when we’re managing families, kids, jobs, managing households, and trying to have hobbies. Take note of your mental health regularly. Do what you can to reduce stress, whether it’s talking to a therapist, journaling, or incorporating other regular self-care habits.

The problem: You’re not getting enough sleep.5

The solution: I probably don’t have to tell you that a lack of sleep, especially when it’s chronic, can have a huge negative impact on every other part of your life. Everything from your mood, your energy level, and your immune system.

Prioritize getting enough sleep. It can take a few weeks to form a good habit, and sleep is no different. Pick a time that you’re going to go to bed every night, even if you’re not tired. Make sure you have comfy sheets and PJs to support a good night’s rest. And don’t be staring at your phone or TV right before you close your eyes, as blue light has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns.

The problem: You’ve been slacking on hand hygiene.6

The solution: That’s right - it’s not just our kids who need to wash their grimy hands multiple times a day. The best way to prevent the spread of germs and keep illnesses out of your house is to wash your hands anytime you come in from outside, use the restroom, or touch something especially germy, and of course before you eat. In addition to clean hands, practicing good oral and skin hygiene also protects your body from germs.7

If none of these things seem to be the cause, it’s always a good idea to speak with your healthcare provider when something feels out of the ordinary.

Yours in Health-
Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD
IVL’s Community Registered Dietitian

References

  1. Hosseini B, Berthon B, & Saedisomeolia A, et al. Effects of fruit and vegetable consumption on inflammatory biomarkers and immune cell populations: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2018 Jul 1;108(1):136-155. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29931038
  2. Simpson R, Kunz H, Agha N, & Graff R. Exercise and the Regulation of Immune Functions. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2015;135:355-80. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26477922
  3. Jang TR, Kao MF, Chen CH, Hsieh KC, Lai WY, & Chen YY. Alleviating effects of dehydration under no hyperthermia on the immunomodulatory response to the polysaccharide fraction from fu-ling (Poria cocos) in male collegiate wrestlers. Chin Med J (Engl). 2011 Feb;124(4):530-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21362276
  4. Morey JN, Boggero IA, Scott AB, & Segerstrom SC. Current Directions in Stress and Human Immune Function. Curr Opin Psychol. 2015;5:13–17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4465119/
  5. Besedovsky L, Lange T, & Born J. Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Arch. 2012;463(1):121–137. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/
  6. Liu M, Ou J, & Zhang L, et al. Protective Effect of Hand-Washing and Good Hygienic Habits Against Seasonal Influenza: A Case-Control Study. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016;95(11):e3046. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4839906/
  7. Matejuk A. Skin Immunity. Arch Immunol Ther Exp (Warsz). 2018;66(1):45–54. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5767194/