Keeping the Winter Flus at Bay

Blink, and before you know it winter is here again! That familiar chill has crept in, and you’re waking up in the dark. It’s also known as the cold and flu season. This appears to be because the viruses involved thrive better in cold, dry weather. Following are some tips to help keep you and your family in tip top shape this winter.

  1. Increase your consumption of immunity-boosting foods

Ensuring that you are eating a wide variety of quality fresh foods is always a good idea for maintaining general good health, but did you know that it is an important factor in supporting your immune system? Your immune system is your body’s defence network, fighting off any foreign entities that may try to take up residence. The better your diet, the more effective your immune system can be.

Try to include immune boosters that are rich in the following:

  • Vitamin C – red capsicum, broccoli, dark leafy greens, strawberries, papaya and of course citrus fruits.
  • Zinc – oysters, red meat and poultry, tofu, chickpeas, pepitas, yoghurt, oats and oh yes, dark chocolate!
  • Vitamin B6 – chicken, salmon, tuna, green vegetables and chickpeas.
  • Vitamin E – nuts and seeds (particularly almonds and sunflower seeds), wheat germ and spinach.
  • Garlic, ginger and turmeric are also great foods to include.

You should also consider your gut health – a high percentage of your immune cells actually reside in your gut. So don’t forget the probiotics, either from yoghurt or a supplement (or both!).

  1. Get outdoors and exercise!

It can be difficult to leave the cosy warmth of the indoors, but there are at least a few good reasons to push yourself out the door. Firstly, exercise increases activity within the immune system, boosting the number of immune-related cells, and thus improving your body’s ability to fight off an invading virus.

Secondly, you’ll be getting out of those confined spaces that you could be sharing with those who are harbouring the cold or flu.

Thirdly, you’ll be getting out into the fresh air and away from those low humidity heated spaces – that have a tendency to dry out your mucous membranes, a part of your body’s defence against airborne infection.

Of course, if the weather is preventing you from exercising outdoors, you can always try a gym or yoga or pilates studio, or even a DVD at home. Even though it’s indoors, see point 1 of this section.

If you’re struggling with any ailments that are preventing you from exercising this winter period call us at 13th Beach Health Services on (03) 5254 2668, or book online to make an appointment with one of our experienced practitioners. We are located on the beautiful Bellarine Peninsula – so that will make it easier for you to venture outside to make your way to one of our clinics, based in Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads.

  1. Get a good night’s sleep

Sleep performs so many important functions, not least of which involves your immune system. Being winter, it’s much easier to go to bed earlier and snuggle up under the doonas, however, if you’re spending that time watching television and not actually sleeping then it’s not going to provide a great benefit. When you are dreaming away, your immune system goes to work producing the elements necessary for it to function at its best. If you are deprived of the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night, then your immune system is deprived of the time needed to perform these functions.

To help improve you quality of sleep try creating and following a routine. Stop watching television or looking at your phone for extended periods at least one hour before going to bed. Instead, try reading, or listening to an audiobook. Also try to get up at the same time each morning. Creating a routine will help your body get into a rhythm, allowing it to release the chemicals needed for you to sleep soundly at the right time.

  1. Don’t forget to wash your hands!

Regularly washing your hands after going out and about is something that is often forgotten, yet forgetting to do so is one of the main ways that people “catch” a cold or flu. During the cold and flu season it is particularly important to remember to wash your hands regularly, especially before preparing or eating food. You should also be mindful of how often you touch your eyes, nose or mouth while or after going out, as these are other ways a virus can infect you. Have you ever watched someone cough or sneeze into their hand, then proceed to touch numerous things around them, such as hand rails, products at the supermarket or door handles, with said hand?

If you happen to get sick this winter, you can help to stop the spread of the cold or flu by coughing or sneezing into the inside of your elbow. You’re much less likely to open a door with that portion of your arm!

As a bonus, all of these tips will also have a positive effect on your mental health, helping to stave off those “winter blues”.

And don’t forget that if you have a physical problem preventing you from exercising and stimulating your immune system, come and see us at 13th Beach Health Services, Barwon Heads or Ocean Grove. Call now on (03) 5254 2668 and see what a difference our practitioners can make for you.


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