As Benjamin Franklin once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The following tips can help you stay proactive about preventative health and may lead to a healthier you.
It may sound cliché, but get some rest! Put on your coziest PJs and queue up something binge-worthy on Netflix. Take it from the late Henry S. Lodge, former professor of medicine at Columbia University: you need sleep, and even more so when you’re sick because rest helps your immune system fight off infections.
Wash your hands thoroughly, properly, and often. Antibacterial and antifungal soaps will kill bacteria and fungus, as advertised, while handwashing for a full 20 seconds or more with soap and clean water will destroy the molecular lipid layer or membrane that bacteria and viruses need to survive and infect people.
Soap molecules break the membrane and it dissolves. Then, soap traps small fragments of the virus or bacteria in little molecular bubbles, which can be washed away with water.
Not all bacteria and viruses depend on a lipid layer to infect humans, but vigorous hand scrubbing and rinsing with water can knock most microbes off your skin. For this reason, proper handwashing is more effective at killing germs than alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
According to experts at Harvard Medical School, most people should drink four to six cups of water each day. If you’re sweating from exercise or heat, you may need more fluids to stay hydrated.
Remember, all fluids count toward your daily intake—though water is usually the best choice. Water, decaf tea, and clear broth are some great ways to hydrate your body when you’re not feeling well. Avoid coffee, caffeinated soda or tea, and alcohol because they can lead to inflammation which hinders your body’s ability fight off sickness.