Published December 20, 2021

Illness Prevention

Written by
Charlene Nelson
| The Dakotan

Wintertime brings out all sorts of coughs, colds, and nasty bugs. Now that we've added COVID to the mix, it's even more important to take steps to prevent winter bugs from taking you down. 

Prevent illnesses: 

  • Wash your hands. Frequently. Most winter illnesses can be avoided with proper hand washing. And don’t rush. Wash with soap and running water, scrubbing for at least 30 seconds. 
  • Reduce the sugar in your diet. Sugar causes inflammation in the body and reduces your body's ability to fight infections and viruses both at the cellular and the hormonal levels.  
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. These are high in the vitamins and minerals that will keep you healthy. 
  • Reduce stress and get plenty of rest. A tired body and stressed mind are more susceptible to illness. 
  • Get exercise, fresh air, and sunshine. This is hard to do during the cold winter months but is essential for a healthy mind and body. 
  • Use probiotics. Studies show that regularly eating foods rich in probiotics (such as those found in live-culture yogurt), can reduce the chance of you catching a cold or flu by 27%. You can take probiotic tablets or eat foods rich in probiotics: yogurt, kefir, kombucha and fermented vegetables. Other vitamins and supplements that may help prevent illness include Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Echinacea, oregano oil, garlic and ginseng.  
  • If you don't feel well, stay home. There is nothing at work or church that is so important that you need to risk spreading illness.  

Numerous studies have shown that Vitamin D is key in the prevention and treatment of COVID as well as many other viral infections. Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because your body uses sunshine to make this nutrient. But during winter months the sun is weaker and you spend very little time outdoors, so your Vitamin D levels could drop dramatically. You should consider taking Vitamin D every day, but most especially in winter months. 

Be prepared for when illness strikes: 
If you don't already know the basics of treating symptoms like vomiting, soar throat, high fever, etc, study up now so that you are ready.  

Before illness strikes, you should: 

  • Have a good supply of over-the-counter and home remedies. This would include analgesics to bring down a fever and reduce aches (aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen), medicine for stomach upset (like Pepto Bismol or Kaopectate) and electrolytes (like Pedialyte) to replenish body minerals and fluids depleted from vomiting. I find that ginger tea or black tea is often just as effective at curbing nausea as many over-the-counter drugs.  
  • Make sure medical records are up to date and accessible. This is especially important for those with chronic conditions or underlying health concerns. 
  • Have plenty of paper products on hand. Things like Kleenex, paper plates, cups, and towels will help prevent the spread of disease and keep dish washing to a minimum. 
  • Check on elderly or chronically ill family members and neighbors regularly to see how they are doing. 

One of my favorite home remedies is Lemon Ginger Honey tea. Each component in this tea has properties that can help heal and soothe the body. The lemon is high in Vitamin C which helps the body to produce antibodies that fight viruses. Besides being high in Vitamin C, ginger is also a good anti-inflammatory, so it will help sooth a sore throat and reduce fever. Honey has antibiotic properties and can help reduce coughing. All of these combined makes this tea my first go-to when someone in the house starts getting a sniffle.  
To make this Lemon Ginger Honey Tea you'll need: 
1 medium-sized ginger root (from the produce section in the grocery store) 
3-5 lemons 
Pure honey 
A jar with a tight-fitting lid. A quart jar is best, but any size will do. 

While you are preparing the other ingredients, put the honey in a pan over low heat and gently warm it up. Make sure it is pure honey. Most imported honey is diluted with syrup. Raw honey from local sources is best. Warm it just enough that the honey is liquid and easy to pour.  

Wash the lemons to remove any wax or other chemical residues. Slice the pointy and stem ends off the lemon and then slice rounds 1/4” thick. 
Peel the ginger and slice into 1/8” rounds, about the thickness of a nickel. 
Put a layer of lemons in the bottom of the jar, followed by a layer of ginger. Alternate layers of ginger and lemons until the jar is filled to the top. Press down a little to accommodate more lemon and ginger.  
Once the jar is packed, pour the warm honey over the lemon and ginger slices. Wait for it to seep down. Use a butter knife to move the contents around and remove any air bubbles. Pour more honey in until the jar is filled. Put a tight-fitting lid on and turn the jar upside down. Put it in the fridge. Turn the jar every day or so to keep the contents steeping in the honey.  
To use: put one lemon slice and a couple ginger slices along with 1-2 Tablespoons of the lemony honey juice into a cup. Pour boiling water over the top and steep for 3-5 minutes. Drink the warm tea to soothe a soar throat, calm a cough and reduce congestion. 
Make a batch of this tea now to have ready when a cold strikes. It will store as long as a month in the refrigerator. 
I hope you all stay healthy and don’t have to rely on this information, but you’ll feel better if you are prepared now for wintertime bugs. 

Email questions, comments or suggestions to: charlene@providenthomecompanion.com 
More on home remedies: https://www.providenthomecompanion.com/stay-healthy/ 
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