Casual contact and brief exposure is all it takes for contagious germs to take hold in susceptible individuals – hygienically challenged preschoolers, for instance. Transmission of these buggers is inevitable, but there are things you can do to strengthen your immune system and eliminate re-contamination within your household. These simple, chemical-free strategies will keep you healthier:
This can be a challenge for busy moms. Adding just 15 minutes of sleep each night will leave you more productive during the day and ward off an energy-zapping illness.
A balanced diet and vitamin supplements, including the elements zinc and copper, will bolster your immune system.
Staying hydrated keeps your mucus membranes humidified and your dermis (skin) moisturized from the inside out. These tissue systems are your body’s barriers against microorganisms and need fluid to function optimally.
Why? Because they compromise your body’s ability to fight infection. The hormone cortisol is produced as a response to stress; sustained high levels weaken the immune system. While you can’t remove stress from your life, you can reduce the amount of cortisol in your body through exercise and relaxation techniques.
Supervise hot water usage (125 degrees is the heat threshold OSHA recommends for hospitals and other public health facilities). Sterile environments require the use of heat to kill germs, so use your appliances’ heat sanitizing setting whenever possible. An array of microorganisms, namely the ones responsible for gastrointestinal infirmity, can withstand temperatures below this range.
Line drying your laundry saves money and resources, but so does staying healthy. A hot clothes drier will eradicate microbes, including fungus and mold, and exterminate parasites like lice and fleas. Make sure your drier vents to the outside and that you clean your lint trap with each use.
Use your microwave to sanitize non-food items such as dishcloths, sponges, hairbrushes, toothbrushes, and combs. Soak in lemon water first, and then zap on high for 30 to 60 seconds. You can also microwave certain toys and even books, but always use caution with plastic. When in doubt, leave plastics out.
Things with this label (and lots without – top rack only) can withstand the heat and water pressure of a dishwasher. Take advantage of it. Toys, handles, lids, pump dispensers, trays, bath items, netting, even beach shoes can go in. Use the “heat dry” setting if possible. Clean is one thing. Sanitized is better.
Do this whenever possible. Think about who has used the sign-in pen at the doctor’s office or pharmacy…sick people! At the school, daycare, or MOPS meeting, dig one out of your purse. No one will be offended. For the inevitable pen shares, such as credit card transactions, hand sanitizer will do.
Anything that is exposed to mouths, eyes, or noses should not be shared. The worst culprits are phones, pillowcases, lip balm, bathroom cups, scarves, eyeglasses, and towels. Microbes thrive on soft, humid surfaces and can live outside a human host for days.
We touch thousands of things a day, interspersed with hundreds of touches to our face – all done without a thought. Hand to face contact is the most prevalent way of spreading illness. While impossible to be hands-off, especially with kids, being mindful of not touching your face will help immensely.