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?
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.
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!