Best Way to Stay Healthy? Call In Sick

Next time you get a sore throat and sniffles, here's what you need to do to avoid can't-get-out-of-bed misery later: stay home.
Research shows that people who report to work sick are much more likely to get laid out flat by an even nastier bout of illness down the road.

Sick at Work
People who came to work sick at least six times within the previous year were 50 percent more likely to need extended sick leave later on -- as much as two or more weeks off within the next 18 months. Why is punching the clock when you're sick so bad? Researchers speculate that when people don't take time to rest and recuperate, the body gets more and more run down -- to the point where it can't keep a little illness from ballooning into big trouble.  

Healthy Solution
Okay, so sometimes you might feel like you really just don't have time to be sick. Or maybe you don't have the luxury of copious sick days. If you can swing it, stay home. But also try these tips and strategies for boosting your immunity so you don't get sick in the first place.

Working late? Rest up with this deep-sleep plan when you get home.

Setting the Scene for Sleep
Much the way you'd put candles on the table for a romantic dinner, or Luther Vandross on the stereo for a romantic night in, you also need to set the mood for sleep.

The perfect set up:
A cool, dark room. The temperature and lack of light is a signal to the pineal gland to kick up melatonin production and knock you out for the count.

No laptops, no TV. Ideally, the bed is for two things and two things only. (You know what we mean.) If you have any other type of stimulus, such as work or a TV, you're not sending your body the message that it's time for sleep. Need more incentive to restrict Leno to the living room? People who don't have a TV in the bedroom have 50% more sex than those who do.

White noise. Get it. Use a fan for background noise, or try one of those machines that plays sounds of the rain forest or ocean. This will drown out the couple fighting next door or the dog barking down the street, so your subconscious stays entirely in the moment.

Appropriate attire. Sleepwear should be nonallergenic (both the fabric and what it's washed in) and nonrestricting. Your body is better at keeping itself hot than keeping itself cool, so the fewer and looser the clothes you wear, the more relaxed you'll be.

A standard wakeup time. Stick to one, even on weekends. It'll help reset your circadian rhythm and train you to stay on schedule even if your rhythms happen to wander, say, when you're traveling.

The best mattress. "We believe there are a few things in life you should overpay for," say YOU Docs Oz and Roizen. "Three of them: Pillows, mattresses, and their coverings."
There's no one mattress that works for everyone, so pick what feels right for you (and try it out with your partner if you sleep a deux). Don't let yourself be rushed into a decision. Tell the salesperson to back off and give you 15 minutes to get the feel for a mattress before you take the plunge.
One good option: A memory-foam mattress, which bounces back to the original flat plane after you get out of bed, rather than forming an indentation. But it can be costly. Alternatively, opt for a high-quality traditional mattress, and flip it every couple of months to prevent body dents that will disrupt your sleep.


Boost your defenses. The YOU Docs have nine tips for boosting your natural immunity.

New flu strains. Antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis. Germs in and on the foods we buy in supermarkets and in restaurants. Flesh-eating bacteria. Feels like you're in the midst of a scary twenty-first century germ invasion. And while you try your best to keep from meeting the nastiest bugs, there's only so much you can do without living in a bubble. That means boosting your immune system matters more than ever.
And steps you take to boost your immunity may also protect you from the chronic diseases associated with aging. See, immunity busters -- everything from aging and stress to lack of sleep, too little exercise, and not-so-smart eating -- can pull the plug on how well your white blood cells, natural killer cells, and chemical messengers can attack and destroy foreign invaders. Didn't know you had an army of defenders, did you? Well, you do. And the very same actions that lessen their ability to fight off bugs also cause trouble by encouraging chronic inflammation -- a hot-button health risk now linked with asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and even some types of cancer.

Keeping your own personal security force strong and disciplined is easy:

Feast on fin food. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), the essential omega-3 fatty acid found in fatty fish (and fish oil, of course), limits several cellular processes (involving dendritic cells and interleukin 12; aren't you glad you asked?) associated with inflammation, so they can't do their dirty work. Serve yourself salmon or trout at least twice a week, or get 2,000 milligrams of EPA plus DHA, another omega-3, from supplements daily. Don't like the fishy taste or the size of the pill? Just get the DHA from pills made from algae -- that's where the fish get it.

See red or go nuts. Red wine, red grapes, and peanuts are great sources of resveratrol, a compound that protects against immune system aging and inflammation.  

Learn the art of ahhhh. Your nervous system and your immune system are linked more closely than fraud and Bernard Madoff. Extreme stress reduces your natural killer cell count -- one reason widows and widowers are more likely to get sick after the death of a spouse. Even periods of short stress (say, road rage) can boost levels of proinflammatory chemicals called cytokines. Set aside 10 minutes a day for relaxation, whether it's meditation, intimacy, a walk, or the pure bliss of playing with your kids or grandkids. And learn some coping skills that help you talk your stress level down while you're still in traffic or whatever situation gets on your nerves.  

Tuck yourself in. Sleep deprivation torpedoes immunity and increases levels of proteins associated with inflammation. Stop shortchanging yourself and jump into the sack a half hour earlier tonight . . . and every night this week. Add another half hour next week, and keep going until you're getting 7 1/2 to 8 hours of shuteye per night. Every night!

Take a walk today. Regular physical activity can help keep immunity where it should be. You don't have to be a gym rat: When a group of overweight couch potatoes started exercising five times a week, they gained a definite cold-fighting edge over nonexercisers.  

Pop some vitamin D. This vitamin can't do its immunity-boosting job if you don't get enough of it . . . which includes at least 30% to 40% of us. Since it's difficult to get what you need from food alone, get 1,000 international units a day from a supplement if you're younger than 60, 1,200 if you're 60 or older.
Munch apples, broccoli, and red onions. All are bursting with quercetin, a flavonoid that shores up immunity, even when you're fatigued. The fiber and antioxidants in these natural goodies also help reduce or mute inflammation instigators.  

Think zinc. Go to the end of the alphabet for a mineral that supports immunity (it may also thwart cancer cells). You can get the zinc you need -- 12 milligrams a day -- from crab, oysters, pork, poultry, beans, cashews, and yogurt. Or find a good multivitamin with less than 15 milligrams. Too much of the stuff could stop other important minerals from doing their jobs.

Don't forget classic "C." This vitamin helps you produce more bullets to kill invading germs. Bell peppers are chock-full of vitamin C; other good C options include strawberries, cantaloupe, and broccoli. Or take 400 milligrams of vitamin C as a supplement three times a day.
Speed recovery. Knock out a cold with the ultimate chicken soup.

When drippy red noses are everywhere, it's time to make a big batch of Dr. Ziment's sinus-clearing Garlic Chicken Soup. We discovered this aromatic mixture while tracking down foods that double as medicine. Chicken soup was top of the list because pulmonary specialists have found that it actually helps clear the airways and reduce inflammation. But this spicy version is practically a wonder drug for head colds -- and it tastes amazing, especially if you love spicy food.
Devised by cold-and-cough expert Irwin Ziment, MD, who was chief of medicine at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center when he cooked it up, the soup gets much of its power from red pepper flakes. They contain capsaicin, known as a fast, effective decongestant. In addition, the hefty dose of garlic -- 30 cloves, although they cook down to produce a much milder, sweeter flavor than one would expect -- loads the soup with enough phytochemicals to give it infection-fighting powers.
Dr. Z recommends 1 cup three times a day, and inhaling the vapors is part of the prescription. Soon, you'll be breathing again.

Dr. Ziment's Garlic Chicken Soup

The spicier the soup, the better it will be at clearing your head, so be generous with the red pepper flakes -- just don't make the soup so hot you can't tolerate it.
2 quarts chicken broth
2 cups sliced carrots
2 garlic heads, about 30 cloves, peeled
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup minced cilantro
2 teaspoons lemon pepper
2 teaspoons minced fresh mint leaves
2 teaspoons dried basil, crushed, or 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 bay leaf
Dried hot red pepper flakes, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a stockpot; bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Puree in batches in a blender or food processor. Return to pot, stir well, warm if necessary, and serve, or freeze in small containers.


Anonymous said...

nice one

Hasan said...

Nice blog

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