Time to reach for the scarves, beanies, tissues and cold and flu tablets – winter is officially here. We might only be a few weeks in, but chances are you have already come into contact with one of the thousand winter bugs that are around at the moment.
While getting the odd cough or cold over winter might seem inevitable, there are some very simple things you can do to support your immune system and give yourself the best chance of fighting off the lurgy and staying healthy.
1. Wash, Wipe and Cover
Yep, it's the same old stuff we have been told for the past 2 1/2 years. Make sure you wash your hands regularly using either good quality hand sanitiser or, preferably, soap and water. Also regularly wipe down surfaces, including mobile phones, with an antibacterial surface cleaner. And, please, wear a mask when you're in enclosed public spaces. IT WORKS.
2. Eat the Rainbow
Eating a nutrient dense diet, particularly high in vitamin C is a proven way to support your immune system and boost your overall health. So think lots of citrus fruit, green leafy vegetables as well as wholegrains and lean protein. Eating different coloured fruit and vegetables is also the simplest way to ensure you are getting a wide variety of nutrients so that your body can fire on all cylinders.
When the temperature drops often we forget about the drink bottle, but water is essential for all body functions, including our immune system. So, even if you’re a bit chilly, make a habit of still reaching for a glass of water throughout the day.
4. Snuggle under the covers
I think we all agree, bed is pretty inviting in this weather! And for some very good news, sleep can be justified as part of your "health kick"! There is a lot of research to show that adequate, good quality sleep is fundamental to a healthy immune system.
5. Get a health check
Winter is a great time to check in with your GP. Getting a routine health check is a good way to make sure there are no deficiencies or underlying health issues that might make you more prone to the winter illnesses.
6. Get Vaccinated
While we don't have vaccinations for all types of coughs and colds the big ones, influenza and COVID, can easily be prevented by getting vaccinated. And remember, the COVID vaccination does not protect you from the flu, you still need the annual flu shot.
7. Know your weak spots and plan ahead
If you have any medical conditions, make sure you are prepared this winter. For example, if you have asthma, start taking your preventor regularly and make sure you have a reliever on hand. Or, if your sinuses are your achilles heel, talk to your doctor about what you can do to prevent infections. Also talk to your GP about a plan for when you get sick, it always helps if you can be on the front foot.