20 secrets for keeping illness at bay

Keep illness at bay

OK, so there’s no such this as being TOTALLY immune to all illness. But nobody can deny that some people fare better when it comes to the dreaded winter lurgy than others.
Do you seem to catch every bug going, while your neighbour/best friend/colleague seems to glide through winter snot and sniffle-free?
Keep illness at bay
Admittedly, our immune systems are all built differently and other factors can come into play (not least the type and amount of bacteria and viruses we’re exposed to), but there’s also a lot people do to help keep those bug-fighting mechanisms in good working order.
Here are 20 tips for keeping the winter bugs at bay.

1. Prioritise sleep

Treat yourself to an early night – studies have shown that plenty of sleep helps the immune system to function, while a lack of shut-eye can weaken it.

2. Manage stress

High stress levels can weaken the immune system. So chill out!

3. Have a hobby

Having a favourite activity or pastime keeps us active and boosts our happy hormones – helping us to stay healthy and keep sickness at bay.

4. Get outdoors

Cooped up in an office full of germs all day? Tear yourself away from the computer and step outside for some fresh air.

5. Laugh!

Having a good chuckle will get your heart beating and also helps reduce stress levels. So book those comedy tickets, or switch on your favourite sitcom, now.

6. Eat berries

Berries are a great source of vitamin C, a key cold-busting nutrient. Note to self: blueberry muffins probably don’t count.

7. Drink water

H2O is awash, if you pardon the pun, with health benefits – and not just when it comes to hangovers. It also helps flush out bad bacteria and can prevent dehydration, constipation and kidney stones.

8. Munch some (proper) chocolate

It could help you fend off illness, because it contains immune-boosting cocoa (the proper dark stuff, that is; not the sugar-loaded milk and white choccy treats). So what better excuse for a big slab of it?

9. Gargle diluted TCP

This liquid antiseptic can be used as soon as you get the inkling of a sore throat. Just gargle (but don’t swallow) TCP diluted with five parts water, twice a day.

10. Get steamy

An oldie but a goodie. Hover over a steaming bowl of water with a towel on top of your head to clear the sinuses.

11. Hands to yourself

Keep handshakes to a minimum during cold and flu season. How about a fist pump instead?! Failing that, get yourself some hand sanitizer.

12. Try ginger

Ginger can sooth sore throats, reduce fever, and aid circulation. What’s not to love?

13. Wash hands

Wash hands after using public transport. If you take a train or bus to work, you’re leaving yourself exposed to all sorts of bothersome bacteria. Tube passengers, take note: research has found the most germ-ridden line on the London Underground is the Northern Line.

14. Take some Echinacea

This native American herb is known for its healing qualities and is a popular choice for fighting the first signs of cold and flu. Note, however, that it can lose impact if used long-term.

15. Get garlicky

Garlic may not make you popular with your other half, but it boasts compounds which help our immune system fight germs.

16. Use sterilising wipes

Some exposure to germs is good for children, but if you have very little ones who like to chew on everything, rub their toys with a sterilising wipe after a playdate to stem the spread of nasties.

17. Nip coldsores in the bud

Coldsores are a symptom of being – and can leave you feeling – really run-down. So keep some coldsore-busting cream in your desk drawer or bedside table, and zap it at the first tingle.

18. Get a massage

Along with relieving stress, a study found that participants who had a 45-minute massage had an increased number of disease-defending white blood cells.

19. Jump in the shower

Cold showers get the blood pumping, help reduce migraines and strength immunity.

20. Eat sweet potatoes

These spuds contain beta-carotene, an antioxidant which helps protect our immune system. Not only that, they’re delicious. Tuck in!

Written by Andrew Moore