Recently, America has been obsessed with news about Ebola, the West African virus that has taken close to 5,000 lives this year.  Several American healthcare workers have contracted the virus, and much of the nation’s focus is on preventing its spread.  However, in all seriousness, the chance of a major Ebola outbreak in the United States is pretty slim.  Americans are much more likely to be stricken by other, milder illnesses.  With that in mind, here are ten things that you can do to help defend yourself against illness.  Sure, they don’t sound like rocket science, but you would be very surprised at how many people fail to do these (and a point of clarification: I am not a doctor)

1)    Limit the amount of things you touch: Germs can and do live on every surface, so the more objects you touch, the more germs you come into contact with.  There are many opportunities for people to limit the amount of things they touch.  For instance, flush the toilet with your foot instead of your hands, or open bathroom doors with a paper towel instead of your hands.

2)    Drink plenty of water: While it is the time of the year for pumpkin spice lattes, consider drinking water instead.  Not only is staying hydrated a necessity, but water also helps to flush out any toxins in the body.

3)    Sleep: Probably one of the most difficult things for college students, sleep is very important for preventing illness because it allows for your immune system to recharge.  Additionally, if you do fall ill, your immune system works predominantly when you are asleep.

4)    Wash your hands: You have heard it since you were a baby, and yet I personally know many people who do not wash their hands…even after using the bathroom.  I feel extremely confident when I say that this tip is the EASIEST thing that an individual can do to improve their chances of not getting ill.

5)    Limit the amount of partying: Excessive partying can affect both your hydration levels as well as the amount of sleep that you get.  So yeah, last night might have been crazy, but you won’t be able to do it again for two weeks because you got sick.

6)    Cut back on the amount of sharing you do: This might sound bad, but especially during prime cold/flu season, be mindful of whom you share your things with.  Couples; it may be cute and adorable to share a milkshake with one straw, but do you know what isn’t cute?  Streptococcal pharyngitis, aka strep throat.

7)    Switch out coffee for tea: Coffee may be the drink of choice for many Americans, but there are some promising studies that suggest that tea may play a role in the prevention of illness.  Whether it be green, honey, or mint, embrace your inner Briton and enjoy some tea!

8)    Eat healthier: Mom always told me, “You are what you eat.”  So, if you eat greasy, fatty, sugary, unhealthy food…well, you can guess what you’ll be.  Healthy foods contain many vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients that can help your body fend off any illnesses it encounters.

9)    Exercise: Not only does being active feel good, it helps to keep your body in tip-top, illness-fighting form.  Whether it be a stroll around the Green or an intense pickup game of basketball at the Little Bob, anything is better than nothing!

10) Cut back on the kissing: The human mouth is one of the dirtiest places in the world.  Harvard professor Sigmund Socransky noted that “In one mouth, the number of bacteria can easily exceed the number of people who live on Earth.”  And when you smooch your sweetheart, you are literally swapping both spit as well as germs. 

Good luck, and stay healthy!

Homer didn't listen to Scott's suggestions, and look at how much fun he's having.  Don't be like Homer: heed Scott's advice!

Homer didn’t listen to Scott’s suggestions, and look at how much fun he’s having. Don’t be like Homer: heed Scott’s advice!

~Scott Eisenhart

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