It’s that time of year again; the occasional sneeze on the train to work has become a deafening orchestra of sniffles and coughs. You may feel great now (or was that a subtle throat tickle..?) but avoiding influenza during the colder months does prove a challenge in our close knit society. Before you stock up on the oranges and self pity we have compiled some quick and easy tips for safeguarding your health this Winter.
Although sources of vitamin c, such as oranges, are trademark immune boosters there are in fact a large variety of foods that may assist in preventing falling ill this flu season.
Oranges… But also capsicum, kale, Brussel sprouts, broccoli and strawberries. Keep your vitamin c supply versatile with stir fry’s, curries and smoothies – no need to ruin OJ for yourself.
Sources of protein act as excellent dietary immune support. Incorporating chicken, lentils, salmon, eggs, pork, cheese, beans or tofu into your daily meals may assist in keeping your immune system strong.
Garlic, dark chocolate and sesame seeds all contain powerhouse mineral Zinc; needed to metabolise nutrients, synthesise protein and maintain a healthy immune system.
Additionally, Turmeric is gaining popularity and recognition for its viral containing properties; studies found that it reduced viral replication in 90% of cells studied. Adding some of the spice to a curry or smoothie may help safeguard your health.
Of course, the humble hand wash is an excellent way to prevent developing the flu as well as stopping the spread of germs in its tracks. Travel sized antibacterial lotions are useful on the go but when possible good old fashioned soap and water is preferable according to studies.
“Cover your mouth” was something most of us would have heard while sneezing our heads off as children, but what is the correct way to do just that? Sneezing into hands is a sure fire way to spread germs near and far at an alarming rate. If you do find yourself with a sniffle, the most appropriate choice is to sneeze directly into a tissue or, failing that, into your elbow; an area with much less traction than the hands.
3. Self Care
Sleep – undervalued in today’s fast paced society but nonetheless a crucial tool for preventing viral illnesses. Being well rested helps keep the immune system ready to fight and is an excellent first defence against influenza. Going to bed even 30 minutes to 1 hour earlier than usual through the Winter months is an easy way to treat your body to some extra rest. In the case of catching the flu, be sure to use your sick day to properly rest; turn off the laptop or Netflix for an afternoon nap to ensure a faster recovery.
Additionally, staying hydrated will assist in flushing out the lymph system and keeping your body toxin-free. Sip water throughout the day and replace some caffeinated drinks with herbal teas. Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine as they are sure to dehydrate and in turn weaken the immune system. Add a fresh juice to your day whenever possible with lemon, orange, apple, ginger and kale for the added benefit of flu fighting vitamins.
4. Influenza Vaccine
Studies have proven that by far the best preventative measure against falling ill with influenza is to have the flu vaccine. The vaccine is updated every year to suit the strains that are locally present. Despite popular belief, the flu shot does not contain any live virus; hence, there is no risk of contracting influenza from having the vaccine. It is safe, and beneficial, for women of all stages of pregnancy to receive the immunisation. There is also a vaccine especially made to help protect babies, toddlers and children against falling ill during the flu season.
Available from your GP, the shot will ensure you enjoy the colder months without the worry of catching your colleagues cough or picking up the latest round of flu from the kids.
This flu season there are many ways to stay healthy; mainly through common sense, self care and good nutrition. However, daily life can get in the way of juicing oranges and leisurely sleep in’s and so the strongest safeguard against influenza is the vaccine, available now from your GP.