OPINION | Campus can avoid preventable illness

As the colder weather rolls in, it brings many illnesses with it.

There are four key things students can keep in mind to maintain their health and well-being: nutrition, sleep, hygiene and clothing.

Nutrition is key because the human body needs a good balance of nutrients to work at its peak ability.

If you have a poor diet, you are putting yourself at risk.

A good diet makes for a strong immune system.

If you think the dining halls leave people with few healthy options, you are wrong.

“Really, it’s a choice,” Julie Howerton, director of health services, said. “Make good choices.”

All the dining areas on campus have some green options and lean healthy proteins during all meals.

Proper hydration is also a key element of staying healthy.

“Many students come to health services sick and dehydrated,” Howerton said.

Being hydrated can make the symptoms less severe.

The primary form of hydration should be water, whether you are ill or not.

Sleep is also very important to maintaining health.

“Students should be getting eight hours of sleep daily,” Howerton said.

Students who think they can cheat their bodies and replace an hour of sleep with a coffee or Red Bull are mistaken.

Caffeine and energy drinks are not substitutes for a good night’s sleep.

Do not underestimate the importance of rest and a good diet.

Good hygiene is critical for a healthy body as well.

Howerton endorses hand sanitizers as a good means to clean hands.

When I eat in the dining halls, I take advantage of the hand sanitizer dispensers that are near the entrances.

Normally I don’t use them right when I walk in because I touch the utensils that everyone else uses to get food.

I have found it best to do it right before I am ready to eat.

Another important concept of good hygiene is to cover your coughs and sneezes.

Howerton recommends that people cough into their sleeves because their sleeves do not come into as much contact with people as their hands.

The final step students should take to remain healthy is to dress appropriately.

Howerton strongly advises that students dress for the impending chilly weather.

When I interviewed her on a cold rainy day, she pointed out many students wearing flip-flops and T-shirts, which puts them at risk of falling ill due to exposure to the elements.

Ultimately, making these sensible choices will prevent illness from spreading quickly.

And as we head into flu season, this will become all the more important.

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