A new school year brings about a sense of meaning, determination, and a set of goals to be reached by the end of the week, semester or year. These goals usually include certain GPAs, club positions, sorority/fraternity pledging, athletic goals, etc. But, I’m going to suggest that you add one more goal to your list: don’t get sick all year. A simple cold is one thing, but getting full on sick in the middle of the hectic school year is something none of us want. It probably sounds ridiculous, but focusing on your health over the course of the school year is going to be key to thriving in college, not merely surviving. Here is how you reach your goal of not getting sick this school year:
- Eat Clean. When it comes down to it, what you eat is going to determine A LOT of your ability to avoid sickness. Eating grains, corn and soy is going to give you a leaky gut, which wreaks absolute havoc on your entire system. This “havoc wreaking” causes inflammation, and the immune system reacts as if it were under attack causing autoimmunity (when the system attacks itself as if it were an enemy). Not to mention, sugar also promotes inflammation causing even more trouble with the immune system. Stick to the basics.
- Drink More. No, not alcohol. Water has hydrating properties that will keep your body happy and functioning properly. A gallon a day is probably about right, but don’t stress out to get to this point. I personally just feel better when I am drinking water over the course of a day as opposed to not drinking. As the Rawbrahs say “you should pee clear 10 times a day” (another good goal to have).
- Take a Probiotic. We recently had a post about what supplements you should and should not be taking. I cannot stress enough how a probiotic will help keep you from getting sick. Probiotics improve gut flora, which improve gut functioning, where 80% of your immune system is located. Taking a probiotic can improve anything from the common cold, to headaches, to nausea and bloating. Take a probiotic to avoid sickness.
- Go Outside, Soak up Sun– Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory properties that will reduce pressure on your immune system. As we have explained before, too much inflammation (caused by eating grains, and processed oils) can wreak havoc on the immune system causing it to fight itself as if it were fighting an enemy.
- Vitamin C. On the same note as Vitamin D, Vitamin C, found in high concentrations in oranges, can be vital for fighting common cold symptoms. It can be a great natural way to stop a sickness from coming on. Studies have found that for people who are under physical stress, taking 1,000mg of Vitamin C daily can cut the incidence of colds in half. This DOES NOT mean to go grab a glass of pulp-free, processed orange juice. I’m talking about grabbing a fresh orange so you get all the fresh, unprocessed juice, as well and the natural fiber from the pith (the rough white skin between the peel and the fruit).
- Use Some Coconut Products. Rub it on your skin, mix a tablespoon into your coffee, or just straight up eat the stuff. Whatever you do, make sure you are getting some sort of coconut product (preferably coconut oil). It has vital vitamins, nutrients and fats that your body needs to run properly. Coconut oil also has something called lauric acid which is converted to monolaurin in the body. Monolaurin helps to avoid disease’s such as influenza, herpes and HIV.
- Take Some Fish Oil. Fish oil was also touched upon in the recent supplements post. Because of high amounts of Omega 6 fatty acids in our foods, we need to take some sort of omega 3 supplement. Fish oil is one of the best ways to add omega 3’s back into your diet on a college budget. Remember, ideally we want our Omega 6:Omega 3 ratio to be at 1:1. Right now, the average O6:O3 ratio is around 16:1. Omega 6 is a pro inflammatory fatty acid, which means the more you have in your system, the more inflammation you are likely to have. Inflammation once again wreaks havoc on the system, causing us to get sick.
- Sweat a Little. While I haven’t found exact studies confirming that exercise can help you avoid sickness, it very likely that there is some sort of link. It may just be a correlation, but even being around healthier people is going to force you to make better decisions about your health. Try some of the caveman college fitness basics and you will be surrounded by healthy, happy people in no time. Just make sure to seek some professional help if you are getting into heavy weight lifting (which i would recommend), as it shouldn’t be too hard on a college campus.
- Play. It seems like a simple idea. Kids do it all the time, and it seems like we play all the time also. However, a lot of college students spend most of their time studying, partying or going to class. Find time to play, and you will not regret the benefits that you will reap. Play engages the brain in ways that no class, exam, or paper could ever do. Not to mention, it is a stress reducer and life enhancer. The best part is, play can be anything: your favorite sport, a walk through campus, a hike, bike ride, or even just a casual game of catch. The important thing to remember is to stay in the moment, and engage yourself in play. With play, you will not only be physically healthy, but also mentally healthy.