Some people may be more susceptible to getting sick than others, especially if they are stressed, tired, run-down or suffer from other conditions.
By: Kimberly Rodrigues
With the cold temperatures during winter, many may find that they are feeling under the weather due to colds, coughs, flu symptoms, and germs that seem to be all around. One way to avoid the dreaded winter lurgies is to ensure your immune system is ready to fight the germs that could be in the air.
Nobody wants to get sick before the holidays but at times it may be inevitable with all the festive events you need to attend and everything that you try to get done before Christmas. So, in order to reduce your risk of contracting any bugs, health experts share some tips to help strengthen and defend your immune system.
However, experts also warn that some people may be more susceptible to getting sick than others, especially if they are stressed, tired, run-down, or suffer from other conditions, the Independent informs.
“People with some medical conditions are at increased risk of infections. For example, people with conditions like asthma, COPD, and diabetes, or who are immunosuppressed,” said Dr Nadja Auerbach, at Thriva, blood testing service in the UK.
Staying safe, for such people is of paramount importance. Also, they should consult a doctor to know how to protect themselves better. However, for those without medical conditions, “lifestyle can have a big effect on your immunity,” Dr Nadja said.
There is a whole host of solutions that can help you to live healthier while avoiding a runny nose or sore throat. Here are some tips to help keep you safe from germs during the colder months.
Try to calm down
Sometimes, just chilling out can help protect your immune system.
Being more susceptible to germs can come from “everyday occurrences such as too much stress and not getting enough sleep,” Dr Nadja said.
You can also decide to hibernate this winter to de-stress and spend some time on your own. Also, try to stay away from people so that you are less exposed to germs.
Ditch the alcohol and drink more water
According to Dr Nadja, if you are frequently “getting dehydrated, and binge drinking,” you are making yourself more vulnerable to germs.
An earlier report in Healthline informs that research shows that alcohol can damage the body’s dendritic cells, which is a vital component of the immune system.
Therefore, ensure you maintain a balance and drink plenty of water, if you are consuming alcohol, as it will help to lower your risk of getting sick.
Eat foods that boost immunity
“The best approach is to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants,” Dr Rhianna McClymont, GP at Livi, digital health care services reportedly said.
She adds, “All the usual suspects – lean meat, fish, grains, pulses, and five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
“Try to have a mix of colours on your plate. The wider the variety of colours you eat, the more types of phytochemicals [the chemical compound produced by plants] you consume, which are essential for fighting inflammation in the body.”
It’s not necessary that you should eat only fresh foods to benefit from them. The doctor reportedly said, “If you don’t always have the fresh foods in, stock up on a few portions of frozen or tinned fruit and veg. This alternative is just as nutritious as fresh because it’s frozen so quickly after being picked.”
Also, adding a wide range of fruits and vegetable to your diet will ensure you get all the vital vitamins including vitamin C to help ward off illnesses.
Try vitamin supplements & consume vitamin-rich food
“To go one step further, make sure your diet includes a mix of vitamins and minerals associated with a strong immune system,” Dr Rhianna said.
She reportedly said to include, “Vitamin A – which can be found in liver, milk and cheese and green leafy vegetables. Also try prioritise vitamin C – found in oranges, tomatoes, kiwis, blackcurrants, peppers and broccoli. [And] vitamin D – found in oily fish, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals and dairy products.”
Vitamin D is supposedly extremely essential for health – especially during the winter months, when there is a lack of exposure to the sun.
Also, try and include more of the lesser-known vitamins in your diet such as zinc, “found in meat, poultry, eggs, cheese,” she said. “As well as root veg, nuts and seeds and selenium which can be found in wholegrain bread, eggs, poultry, fish and shellfish.”
Wear a mask and practice good hand hygiene
“Masks, particularly in mass use, can reduce the risk of airborne infections,” which is the route of transmission of many of the infections currently sharply rising in the UK,” said Dr Sanjay Mehta, GP at The London General Practice.
He also said that washing your hands regularly can further reduce the transmission risk too.
“Many viruses and other infection-causing bugs make it through this initial barrier [of masks and hand santisation] and into the body, so looking after your immune system is just as important, to maximise your defence,” said Dr Sanjay.
“That includes keeping up-to-date with the annual influenza (flu) jab and Covid boosters, which helps to reduce the risk of transmission and severity of such infections,” he concludes.
Don’t share things
According to the National Health Service, flu viruses can usually survive on surfaces for 24 hours. This can spread the germs among those living in the same house. For instance, a sick child can pass on the germs to other family members.
Therefore, to avoid this from occurring, personal things should be kept separate. Some of these items include the following:
• Drinking glasses
Additionally, contaminated items can be washed in hot, soapy water. To curb the spread of germs, a safe option would be to use disposable drinking cups, utensils, and towels.