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By HoneyColony Staff

It’s that time of year when sore throats, headaches, body aches, and snot soar through the air and descend on unsuspecting loved ones left and right without mercy. We’re certainly not immune to the cold and flu season here at HoneyColony, so we turned to Hive Advisor JJ Virgin for five tips to help you beat the plague and hopefully avoid the pain and misery altogether:

1. Spend More Time In The Sack

Just one terrible night’s sleep can raise your stress hormones and lower immune function. You’re more susceptible to whatever is going around your office. Poor sleep also increases your appetite, making you crave sugar, which further weakens your immunity. You need 7-9 hours of high-quality sleep each night to boost your immune system, and much more if you’re already ill. Power down an hour before bed, take a hot bath with chamomile tea and a trashy novel, and take an herbal based natural sleep aid if you really have trouble getting solid shut-eye.

2. Stress Less

Ever notice how an argument with your significant other or a brutal week at work can bring on a cold or flu? It’s not your imagination: a meta-analysis of 300 studies found chronic stress could seriously mangle your immune system. Stress does its damage by lowering natural killer (NK) cell activity (a major player in a healthy immune system), raising fat-storing cortisol, and depleting vitamin C. If you can’t eliminate stress, then reduce its impact with a massage, yoga, meditation, or whatever else can create added bliss.

3. Step It Up

One study found moderate exercise could increase your body’s macrophage production, which helps strengthen your immune system. But contrary to what you might hear, going all out with running, aerobics classes, and treadmill marathons all raise cortisol, which can break down muscle and weaken the immune system, especially if you’re already feeling a bit under the weather.

4. Get The Right Breakfast

Starting your day with the right nutrients and keeping balanced blood sugar levels are your best dietary defenses against nasty colds, flus, and whatever other viruses are going around. Plus, you can create our delicious smoothie at home, and check out our list of the top five supplements for optimal health.

5. Optimize Your D

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen found vitamin D can activate your immune defenses. I know numerous nutrition experts who immediately reach for the D when they feel that first sign of a cold coming on. (Yes, even us nutritionists occasionally get sick!) Without sufficient vitamin D, your immune system has a difficult time fighting infections. You’re probably not making enough D from sunlight during winter months, and few foods contain optimal levels, so supplementing with a high-quality vitamin D is your best bet.

When it’s fall or winter and you start to feel feverish with a cough, sore throat, fatigue and body aches, most people automatically think ‘flu.’ If you’ve had the flu vaccine, you may wonder how you still became sick. If you didn’t, you may wish you had. Yet, how many of these illnesses are actually the flu?

Most physicians don’t bother to do the laboratory testing required to find out, because the treatment for most flu-like illnesses is the same.

Only about 20 percent of all influenza-like illness that occurs every year is actually associated with influenza viruses because many types of respiratory illnesses with flu-like symptoms can be mistaken for influenza. About 80 percent of cases of suspected influenza sent to the CDC for analysis lab test negative for type A or type B influenza.

What is also not widely shared is the fact that “most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks” (this is a direct quote from the CDC).

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