There is no doubt, people are most effected by cold and flu during winter.
The exact reason
for this is still being debated, however what is understood is that cold weather doesn’t make you sick – germs do. The cold wintery weather simply creates conditions in which these germs can spread, survive and thrive.
Help to reduce your risk with these lifestyle tips.
1. Get enough exercise
Working out is a great way to boost your immune system function. “Exercising on a regular basis assists in boosting the cells in your body, creating more oxygen and fighting agencies to attack viruses and bacteria,” says Dr Tal Rapke.
He adds there is some evidence people who exercise take half as many sick days and recover faster than those who do not exercise.
Furthermore, if you get outside in the fresh air and sunshine you help your body produce vitamin D
, healthy levels of vitamin D are important for immune function.
2. Practice healthy hygiene habits
When you’re out and about, especially during cold and flu season, there may be some benefits in regularly wash your hands, especially after touching doors or using handrails on public transport.
Dr Rapke suggests those that can’t get to a bathroom to regularly wash your hands could carry and utilize sanitary wipes/hand sanitizers.
And while it’s not ground-breaking information, it never hurts to remind everyone in your home that washing your hands before and after touching food, using the loo or blowing your nose (or catching a cough with them – though it’s healthier to use your elbow.)
3. Eat an immune boosting diet
helps maintain a strong immune system and helps you to recover more quickly if you do fall ill.
Incorporate immune boosting foods rich in beta-carotene, bioflavonoids and anti-inflammatory properties into your diet.
Blueberries, citrus fruit, apple and Manuka honey are all great ingredients to throw into a morning smoothie.
Garlic, tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, turmeric, carrots, green leafy vegetables and lean red meat are great additions to winter warming soups.
Limit sugar and alcohol intake.
Eating foods rich is zinc is also a great way to help boost your immunity says naturopath Chantelle Bell.
She recommends including oysters, beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, cashews as part of your diet– the Australian RDI is 8 to 14mg each day, or 2 oysters, 150gm beef or lamb, 1 cup of pumpkin seeds or cashews.
A nutritious smoothie packed with flavonoid-rich foods and Manuka honey
Prep: 5 minutes
- 1 cup coconut water
- 1 apple, chopped
- 1 large handful of blueberries
- 1 tsp to 1tbsp raw cacao
- 1 heaped tsp Manuka honey
- Dollop of natural yoghurt
How to make
- Place all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth
- Pour into a large glass to serve. Serve chilled
Vitamin C bliss balls
Give your immunity a boost with these tasty vitamin C packed bliss balls.
Makes around 12 balls
- 1½ cups cashews, soaked
- 1½ cups desiccated coconut
- 2 lemons, juice and zest
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, soft but not melted
- ½ cup goji berries
- 2 tbsp local honey or brown rice syrup
- A pinch of rock salt
- Desiccated coconut to coat
How to make
- Place all the ingredients excluding the goji berries into food processor and blitz until it comes together. It is important you do not over mix as it will turn into butter!
- Once it is at your desired consistency, add the goji berries and pulse a couple of times until they are incorporated into the dough. You can do this by hand if you prefer
- Roll the dough into individual balls and coat in desiccated coconut and place in the fridge to set (1-2 hours or preferably overnight)
Help stop the spread
The trick to minimising the spread of cold and flu lies in a few simple steps that anyone can do:
- Wash & dry your hands with warm soapy water, use hand sanitiser when out and about
- Stay home if unwell, and at least 24 hrs after a fever goes away
- Eating well and exercising contributes to good health and a healthy immune system. Keep hydrated and limit sugar and alcohol intake
- Stress and lack of sleep can negatively impact your immune system. Aim for at least eight hours of sleep
- Regularly clean surfaces such as your telephone and keyboard
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze, dispose of used tissues immediately