With the warming of the weather, many people carry on the tradition of spring cleaning to help them refresh their home from the winter. As you're refreshing your home, here's some expert advice to help you spring clean your health in these three areas:
- Immune system
Avoid bringing allergens indoors
Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD, dermatologist in private practice at SkinSafe Dermatology and Skin Care
“Prone to seasonal allergies? Spring is the season for pollen from growing trees, flowers and grasses. It gets on your hair, skin and outerwear from the air, park benches and brushing up against flora. Reduce the risk of bringing the pollen indoors with you by removing exposed items at the door.
Did you go for a run outdoors in the finally warm enough weather? Toss your clothes in the washer and take a shower to remove pollen. Other tricks to reduce exposure is keeping bedroom windows closed and replacing the filter screens in your vents.”
Eat local honey
Lisa Richards, nutritionist and The Candida Diet author
"Honey is a natural sweetener which can help reduce the amount of added sugar you have in your diet, but can also improve your seasonal and environmental allergies. Integrating local honey into your diet may help reduce allergies because bees make their honey from the pollen you live and work around. Giving yourself a small dose of this on a regular basis can help to build immunity to these typical allergens.”
Keep your indoor air circulation clean
Mark Dawson, One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning COO
“Clean your HVAC registers and vents: All of the air handled by your HVAC system blows through them, so these vents will inevitably get dusty. A flexible duster or the wand attachment on your vacuum should make this an easy job, and it can cut down on the amount of dust blowing through your home.
Clean your ceiling fan blades: Just as with your vents, dusty ceiling fans can circulate even more dust around your home. And while you’re at it, reverse your ceiling fan direction so that the blades turn clockwise, creating an updraft. This helps circulate warm air throughout the room and may allow you to set the thermostat a couple degrees lower without sacrificing comfort.
Switch your fan to 'on' mode: This strategy is a trade-off: when your fan runs constantly, your indoor air is always being filtered, boosting air quality. But you may see the difference in your monthly utility bills, and it will also increase the wear and tear on your HVAC system’s fan.
The secret to healthy home air is striking the right balance when it comes to moisture control. Too much humidity is an invitation for mold – but too little can result in dry air that triggers allergy symptoms.”
Take your vitamins
Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, MD, health advisor at healthcareers.co
“Vitamin C is an excellent supplement for boosting your immune system. Zinc is a fantastic supplement to take along with vitamin C, that will help you fight viruses faster. A healthy diet with fruits rich in vitamin C — i.e., citruses — will be an excellent way to take vitamins. Still, I suggest taking additional supplements during the seasonal change, to support your organism with little extra nutrients.”
And, take your supplements
Myles Spar, MD, MPH, Vault Health chief medical officer and integrative men’s health specialist
“Set your immune system up for success by staying hydrated. Rethink your beverage choices, lower your alcohol intake, and switch to water and water with lemon to keep your organs healthy and flush out toxins.
Take immune-boosting supplements that help act as anti-virals like Elderberry, Echinacea and NAC (N-acetyl cysteine). Zinc also helps, since it is an antiviral. I like the product by Source Naturals called Wellness Formula.”
Watch out for colds and the flu
Jocelyn Nadua, registered practical nurse and C-Care Health Services care coordinator
“Even though winter might be the worst for cold and flu season, spring would be the next one up. The change of temperature can often fluctuate during the spring, catching many of us off guard in the process. For instance, too often do people catch colds in March because they've been underdressed for the past few days, believing it's warmer outside than it actually is. Since we've been used to freezing temperatures for the last few months, a few degrees above zero can feel as though it's summer. With that being said, once spring arrives, don't dress by gauging the weather by how it feels, dress by the actual temperature.”
Take care of your gut
Judy Gaman, Executive Medicine of Texas CEO and Stay Young America! podcast host
“Research shows that 70 percent of the immune system is in the gut. Don't wait until you're sick to boost your gut microbiome. Take a high quality probiotic supplement, as well as consume foods that are high in probiotics and prebiotics. For example, sauerkraut, cheese, and other fermented foods are high in probiotics, and fibrous vegetables like asparagus are the food the microbiome feeds off of, also known as prebiotics.”
Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, MD
“Don't forget to drink a little more than usual. When seasons change, we tend to dress by inertia, keeping too many warm layers far longer than the temperatures demand. Due to excess of clothes, we sweat more and lose fluids. Increasing your water intake will ensure you don't dehydrate. It will provide optimal conditions for metabolic processes, and support the immune response to viruses that can thrive in the changing, warm weather.”
Jess Dang, Cook Smarts founder and chief kitchen cheerleader
“One of the best things you can do to take control of your health is to get in the habit of meal planning. So many of us have good intentions about eating healthier, but when we're rushed and without a plan in the moment, we make choices we regret. My advice? Take some time on the weekend to think through what you have going on in the week ahead. Know when you'll have time to cook, when you'll need to be able to throw together something quick, and when you want to go out to eat or grab takeout. When you have a plan for each night's dinner that takes into account your actual life, you're much more likely to stick to it!”
Choose nutrient-rich food
Elliott Upton, NASM-certified personal trainer at Ultimate Performance
“While there are no such things as ‘weight loss foods’ or foods that are somehow inherently ‘fattening,' there are certain types of foods over others that are more conducive to weight loss and will make it easier sticking to your diet.
These are invariably meals that are high in protein, with nutrient-dense vegetables and good quality fats and carbohydrate sources that support general health and well-being, above calorie-dense, nutrient-poor processed foods.
There are plenty of foods that fit this mold for spring — grilled lean meats, fresh fish, low fat dairy for good sources of protein, green vegetables, crisp salads and general non-starchy vegetables to fill you up for less calories, healthy fats from things like olive oil drizzled on salads, nuts for added crunch or avocados for texture, along with small portions of carbs with a lower glycemic load, like brown rice or sweet potato, to keep you full and your blood sugar levels more stable.”
Eat green things
Pam Sherman, personal trainer and The Perfect Balance CEO
“Have you been surviving on soups and comfort food this winter? Try swapping these out for lighter dishes that better reflect the new season, like salads or fish. The greenery that is starting to emerge around you may inspire you to add green foods into your diet more often.”
Eat fruits and veggies
Myles Spar, MD, MPH
“Switch up your diet. A recent study shows prominent results indicating that a high intake of fruits and vegetables promotes higher levels of optimism and self efficacy, reduces psychological distress, reduces cancer fatalism, and protects against depressive symptoms in adults.”
Visit the farmer’s market
Jennifer Fidder, M.A. CPPC, Jennifer Alice Training and Coaching LLC mindset coach and personal trainer
“Spring is also a great time to check out your local farmer's market. In the United States, all sorts of lettuce, leafy greens, as well as asparagus are in season this time of year.”