Due to the fact that we spend more time inside during the colder months and we are in close contact with those we live with, colds and flu are more common. Getting sick however doesn’t have to be inevitable. If you take steps to boost your immune system and practice good hygiene you can give yourself a good shot at being able to stay well over the winter months.
- 1. Hand washing – without a doubt this is the FIRST and best step you can take to avoid getting sick. Whenever you have touched something *communal* wash your hands. Door handles, shopping trolleys and baskets, handrails on public transport, railing around shopping centres, and, even at work – the water cooler, coffee machine, someone else’s computer….
- 2. Have a cleaning habit – regularly clean surfaces such as your mobile phone, tablet, laptop or computer keyboard, door handles. Avoid continually using antibacterial cleaning products unless you have a medical reason to do so, as overusing them can contribute to antibiotic resistance. This includes when you are home cleaning and at work.
- 3. Don’t share – cups, bowls, plates and cutlery as well as hand towels and bath towels – unless everything is washed thoroughly between uses. If you use disposable paper towels and tissues, throw them in the bin immediately after use.
- 4. Get enough sleep Poor sleeping can and does lower your immunity which will make it more likely that you will get sick. Studies have shown those who get less than 7 hours of sleep a night are three times more likely to catch a cold, than those who sleep 8 hours or more. For those who sleep 6 hours or less, they are 4 times as likely to catch a cold. Try and get 7 to 8 hours of sleep most nights.
- 5. We get Vitamin D from sunlight on our skin and it’s a key nutrient for immunity. In winter the UV index is lower, so it’s a great time to get out for a midday walk and soak up some Vitamin D to top up your levels.
- 6. It is tempting to stay inside, curled up in front of a fire with a good book or watching a movie, but some regular moderate exercise can help boost your immune system to reduce your chances of getting a cold, and, if you do get sick exercise can help improve your recovery time.
- 7. Eat well, while a well-balanced healthy diet is essential all year round there are a few nutrients that really help to boost our immune systems. This includes ZINC – from fish, seafood, legumes, nuts and seeds, lean meat and poultry, whole grains and dairy foods like cheese, milk and yoghurt. VITAMIN C – found in kiwifruit, berries, capsicum, spinach, citrus fruits, broccoli and tomato. VITAMIN A – is found in yellow-orange and dark green vegetables such a spinach, sweet potato, carrot and pumpkin. Try and include these foods regularly in your winter meals.
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