Of course, we all know and are reminded daily to wash our hands well with soap for a minimum of 20 seconds and rinse well, as well as washing often throughout the day.
To use hand sanitizer when you are unable to use soap and water, although there is no need if you have access and are able to wash your hand properly throughout the day.
Not touching your face. I think that’s a given but what might not be as obvious but is an everyday essential during any cold and flu season are a few precautions for prevention that I will highlight below.
High traffic areas that may not be so apparent
While people hopefully are keeping their social distance etiquette, and disinfecting “high touch” areas, are we remembering that our phone is one of the highest traffic areas of all? Viruses don’t live long on hard surfaces, but they do linger for a while. Placing your phone down on a table and then holding it to your face can be a tricky non-obvious spread of infection. Give a little disinfecting love to the device we love the most!
Get fresh air - even when it's cold out
One of the reasons sickness spreads more easily in winter is because we’re all inside sharing the same air and the movement of air is stifled. Opening a window to let in some fresh air or stepping outside for a brief walk can do wonders for clearing out the lungs. Sunlight ( or UV radiation) had a natural protection against viruses lingering in the air. If that’s not an option, an air purifier is an excellent investment. Some models are specifically designed to remove allergens, inactivate bacteria and neutralize viruses. (1,2)
Support your immune system in the kitchen
You can boost your body’s ability to fight off sickness by adding the right vitamins and nutrients to your diet. Some research suggests vitamin C can help shorten the duration of colds and flu by supporting overall immunity. Research also has shown that zinc may decrease how long your common cold lasts, and vitamin D3 has been shown to support your overall immune system. Making healthy meals in your own kitchen can help keep your immunity in check and stop the inadvertent spread.
Eat a wide variety of healthy foods and try to include;
Foods rich in vitamin C include broccoli, cantaloupe, cauliflower, kale, kiwi, orange juice, papaya, red, green or yellow pepper, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes. Remember to wash fresh fruits and veg well.
Zinc sources include pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, instant oatmeal, almonds & legumes.
Vitamin D Go get 15 min outdoors on a sunny day (even if you're not feeling well). Food sources for D, Fatty fish like herring and sardines, salmon canned tuna, eggs if you eat these. Mushrooms and fortified foods are plant-based sources, but again, if you can sit in a sunbeam outside for 15 mins, this should supply you with boosted vitamin D that is converted naturally in our skin. (3)
There are also great, well researched natural foods to help boost immunity like garlic, oregano, ginger, probiotic foods and more that you can read about here. But nothing is fool proof, keeping your overall immune supported, and keeping transmission down is key.
Get good sleep
People who get less than seven hours of sleep each night are three times more likely to catch colds than those who get at least eight hours. Getting quality sleep on a regular basis strengthens your immune system, helping your body fight off colds, the flu and other infections. (4,5)
Stay active & well hydrated
Activity & Hydration is important, it keeps our lymph moving which is an important part of our immune system. Moderate amounts of aerobic exercise such as jogging, brisk walking and cycling during the cold and flu season can also boost the body's defenses against viruses and bacteria. No need to go to crowded gyms right now, try a walk around your neighbourhood or a workout pulled up on YouTube.
Remember that water is the best liquid to be drinking. If you do get sick, adding small amounts of electrolytes is beneficial. Keeping the throat moist also helps shuttle viruses that haven't crossed the mucousal barrier down the esophagus to the high acid environment of the stomach, our first line of defense! Sip on water throughout the day to keep this line of defense active.
Keep stress in check
Lots of media and constant news about how bad things might be is the worst for your immune system! Stress suppresses our body’s immune system and our ability to fight infection.(6) Keep informed but remember to turn the media off. Start a good book, watch a funny movie, a phone call with a friend or family to keep balance.
Health & Happiness,