Stay Healthy During a Canadian Winter!

– Erin Casper (ILAC Teacher)

Flu/cold season is fast approaching and as we prepare for the colder months it’s important to think about how to stay healthy so we can enjoy winter to the fullest. There are many precautions you can take to try and avoid getting sick:

1 –Fruits and vegetables: The best defense against sickness is maintaining a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. It’s important to get 7-8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. For fruit, a favourite ways to ensure I am eating multiple servings is by making a smoothie. I use my favourite fruits; blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, banana and add milk, Greek yogurt and orange juice. I blend it all together with a hand blender for an instant delicious and nutritious treat. As for vegetables, mushrooms have immune boosting properties and can be used in stir-fries, salads or as a side dish. Dark greens such as kale is known as a super food and is good for your overall health. Other vegetables have numerous health benefits so it’s important  to eat as many different types as you can.

A great website that tells you the best vegetables to eat and all of their health benefits is Another food that helps to maintain overall health is fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel, and herring. They contain omega-3 fatty acids which have been known to fight flu and viruses. Lastly, limit refined sugars in your diet. It’s one of the worst ingredients you can put into your body because your body rejects unnatural ingredients and it lowers your immune system. Since we all love desserts from time to time remember to limit the amount of sugar you eat to keep your immune system strong and healthy.

vitamins protect from colds - flu season

2 – Vitamins and supplements: I have always found knowing which vitamins and supplements to buy to be confusing. There is so much information about which ones are the best or the most necessary. The best advice I can give you is to visit Shoppers Drug Mart or a health store in your area and ask one of the employees which vitamins and/or supplements would be right for you. There are a couple of popular choices, which have been known to help with certain deficiencies. Vitamin C is great for fighting colds. If you are not getting enough Vitamin C in your diet, then this is definitely a vitamin you should be taking. With winter approaching, lack of sunshine means we need to have more Vitamin D in our diet. Doctors recommend we take Vitamin D throughout the winter months. You can usually find Vitamin C and Vitamin D together in one capsule. This makes it easier to take, instead of requiring separate pills. If you feel a cold coming on, Cold FX or a generic equivalent is a good choice. They’re sold in most drugstores and are known to reduce the duration and severity of your cold. As for flu, you should get the flu shot. It’s the best way to prevent you from getting the common strains this winter. It will be available at Shoppers Drug Mart and walk-in clinics or contact a healthcare professional.

3- Keeping active and getting enough sleep: Sleep and exercise are powerful natural immunity boosters. I know that for some ILAC students, coming to learn English in Toronto is a vacation. Therefore, students enjoy their time partying, hanging out with friends and sleeping very little. Even though this might be the case, it’s important to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. This allows your body to get the rest it needs and to keep your immune system strong and healthy. Not to mention, getting enough shut-eye makes you feel energetic and helps your brain to function at its full capacity. Besides sleep, exercise is a great way to stay healthy and to maintain a strong immune system. Whether you walk, join a gym, do your own workout at home or play sports with your friends, exercising is one of the best ways to prevent a cold or flu.

Hopefully these three tips will help you to stay healthy throughout the cold winter months. But sometimes, no matter how many precautions we take, we still get sick. If this happens there is a specific protocol you should follow to prevent others from getting your germs. If you sneeze or cough, it’s proper etiquette to use your sleeve instead of your hand. When you sneeze or cough into your hand, you are more likely to spread the germs to other students. If you blow your nose, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer afterwards. Most ILAC classrooms have hand sanitizer, so feel free to use it whenever you are sick. If you are really sick, stay at home and rest! When you’re sick you’re not able to enjoy your experience in Toronto so stay healthy and happy this winter!

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