Beating the Winter Bugs! April 11 2016

Lifestyle and choices are a huge factor affecting whether you stay healthy throughout winter or succumb to the winter blues. There are several simple things you can do to beat the bugs!

One of the most important things you can do to avoid bugs is to wash your hands! Remember, sickness-causing viruses can live for many hours on door handles and other surfaces, so it is easy to get sick if these are transferred to you mouth or nose from your hands. Washing your hands regularly with antibacterial soap or hand sanitiser, especially before eating will greatly reduce your chances of picking up a bug.

If we do not get enough sleep, this can make us more susceptible to infection because our bodies aren’t able to recharge properly. Our immune system cannot work at its full capacity if we are sleep deprived or stressed, so it is very important to get a good night's sleep. You should generally aim for seven to eight hours a night. 

It is important to drink lots of water, as dehydration puts extra stress on our systems. The mucus in our bodies becomes thicker and drier, and therefore less able to cope against invading bacteria and viruses. You should aim at drinking about 1.5L of water a day. You should also try and eat lots of zinc-rich foods because zinc plays a key part in helping to boost the immune system and fight colds. Such foods include meat, eggs, oysters, seafood and tofu. When eaten with vitamin C, zinc is even more effective. 

When the weather is cold and unpleasant, often the last thing we feel like doing is exercising but it is actually very important. Being physically active helps us to stay healthy in winter because it increases the number of cells that travel around our bodies, hunting and killing bacteria, viruses and other invaders.

Although some supplements, like vitamin C and echinacea, can help our bodies to battle common winter bugs, relying on them to keep you healthy during winter is unrealistic, particularly if you are leading an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle. The best way is by eating a balanced diet that provides lots of vitamins and minerals via food and then topping up with supplements of whatever you may be lacking.

Sadly, being fit and healthy will not protect you from influenza. A flu shot targets the current strains of flu will not only reduce your chances of getting sick, it avoids you passing it on to others. Unfortunately, there is no vaccination for the common cold.