With flu cases accounting for 22,000 visits to GPs, 85 deaths and hundreds of hospital admissions, it would seem we are dealing with a flu crisis this winter.
With sore throats, soaring temperatures, aching joints, headaches and coughing just some of the symptoms, this is one bug you could do without.
While there is no guaranteed way to avoid germs, as well as having the flu vaccination, you can make small lifestyle changes to help reduce the chances of picking up a virus that could knock you for six.
Wash your hands
Colds and flu are caught by direct contact and can be spread from hands, door handles, telephones, keyboards with germs living on surfaces for hours. To do your best to avoid picking bugs up, wash your hands, use hand sanitisers when you are out and about and if you know someone is sick, keep away because prevention is better than cure.
We all need different amounts of sleep but it is important to maximise your snooze time as this is when your body heals itself and your immune system gets stronger.
Keep stress under control
Stress isn’t good for us and can seriously weaken your immune system leaving you susceptible to catching colds and flu viruses. Keep your stress levels down by saying no to non-vital commitments, doing a little meditation and yoga each day, stepping away from social media, using your holiday time and taking time out for you each day – even if it is 10 minutes.
Watch what you eat
A diet rich in fruit and vegetables can help you avoid many health problems. We love citrus fruits, dark blue and red berries, mangoes, apricots, carrots and beetroot because they are packed with Vitamins A and C which support the immune system. It is a good idea to eat a portion of healthy protein at each meal as this keeps the body strong and healthy and swap coffee and fizzy drinks for water and herbal tea for maximum hydration. Keep white refined sugar to a minimum as this can interfere with your digestion and immune system. If you think your diet is lacking nutrients, consider a supplement.
As boring as it is, drinking too much alcohol is bad for immune cells as they become dazed and confused…just like us…do don’t over do it and to have a few booze free days a week.
Get some fresh air
Stuffy offices, shops and buses are full of people breathing in stale air and breathing germs out, so get outside when you can. Walk rather than take public transport, if someone at work is coughing maybe move desks (be subtle) or open a window and always wash your hands after going to the loo and before preparing and eating food.
Take some exercise
Exercise is a great way to boost your circulation and this makes it easier for immune cells to whizz around your body, search for viruses and deal with them before the take hold. Exercise also stimulates the lymphatic system which is good at getting rid of damaging toxins and waste in the body and of course, those endorphins will make you happy.
As well as damaging your lungs and heart, smoking irritates the delicate tissues of your respiratory tract and depletes the Vitamin C you need for a strong immune system. Quit today and reap the benefits for a lifetime.
Keep warm and well.