Ah, the joys of winter—the crisp air, the cozy blankets, and of course, the inevitable onslaught of colds and flu. These pesky viruses seem to have a knack for turning our lives into a symphony of sneezes, sniffles, and coughs. But fear not, brave souls! We'll equip you with the knowledge and strategies to fend off those cunning culprits and emerge victorious in the battle against colds and flu. You will learn how to increase your immune system in no time!


Wash Away the Woes

Remember those lessons your parents drilled into your head about washing your hands? Turns out, they were onto something. Hand hygiene is a powerful defence against colds. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in public places or touching common surfaces[1]. Proper handwashing not only removes germs from your hands but also helps prevent them from spreading to your face and other surfaces. Pay extra attention to washing your hands before eating or touching your face, as these are common routes of infection. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.


Keep Your Distance, Mr. Germ

While social distancing has been the norm lately, it's worth remembering that it's not just for pandemics. Minimize your risk of exposure by avoiding close contact with individuals who are visibly sick; sneezing, coughing, or looking generally under the weather [8]. Sure, it might sound antisocial, but it's better to be safe than swapping germs with someone who could double as a walking tissue box. Maintain a safe distance of at least six feet from others, especially in crowded places or enclosed spaces. If you need to interact with someone who is ill, maintain a safe distance and encourage them to practice proper cough etiquette and hand hygiene.


Boost Your Immune Squad

Think of your immune system as your own personal superhero team, ready to tackle any viral villains that come its way. Nurture your immune system by adopting healthy lifestyle habits. Get regular exercise, eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and ensure you're getting enough sleep[3]. To keep your immune system in tiptop shape, feed it with a healthy diet. Load up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Incorporate immune-boosting foods into your meals, such as citrus fruits, berries, leafy greens, garlic, ginger, and yogurt[5][6]. These foods contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support immune function and help fight off infections. And don't forget to stay hydrated! Water is the sidekick your immune system needs to stay strong and ready for action. Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, herbal teas, and clear broths, to keep your body hydrated and help flush out toxins[4]. Optimal hydration helps to keep your respiratory system moist and functioning effectively, making it harder for cold viruses to take hold. So, drink up and let your immune system show off its superpowers. Additionally, manage stress effectively as chronic stress can weaken your immune response.


Catch Those Zzz's

You might not realize it, but a good night's sleep is a secret weapon against colds and flu. When you're well-rested, your immune system is firing on all cylinders, ready to defend you from unwelcome invaders. During sleep, your body produces and releases proteins called cytokines, which are crucial in fighting infections and inflammation. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep each night to give your immune system the rest it needs to keep those viruses at bay.[12]


Exercise Your Way to Immunity

Yes, we know exercise is often associated with sweat-drenched gym sessions and gruelling workouts, but it can actually be a fun activity that boosts your immune system too! Regular exercise helps circulate immune cells throughout your body, strengthening your defences against viral foes. It also reduces stress, which can suppress your immune system. Find activities you enjoy, whether it's dancing like nobody's watching, brisk walking in the park, or joining a recreational sports team. So put on your superhero cape and get moving![11]


Embrace the Elbow Cough

When it comes to preventing the spread of cold viruses, proper cough etiquette is crucial. Instead of coughing or sneezing into your hands, which can easily transfer germs, cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue[2]. This helps to minimize the release of infectious droplets into the air and reduces the risk of spreading the cold to others.


While colds and flu might seem inevitable, arming yourself with the right knowledge and habits can significantly reduce your chances of falling victim to those unwelcome visitors. Practice good hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and immune-boosting strategies to keep those cold viruses at bay. Strengthen your immune system, maintain a healthy lifestyle, getting adequate sleep and minimize exposure to sick individuals, you have the power to keep those sniffles and sneezes at bay. By implementing these preventive measures, you can cold-proof your life and enjoy a healthier, sniffle-free existence!


Reference List:

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/index.html

 2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Coughing and Sneezing Etiquette. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/etiquette/coughing_sneezing.html

 3. Nieman, D. C., & Wentz, L. M. (2019). The compelling link between physical activity and the body's defense system. Journal of Sport and Health Science, 8(3), 201-217. doi:10.1016/j.jshs.2018.09.009

 4. Popkin, B. M., D'Anci, K. E., & Rosenberg, I. H. (2010). Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition Reviews, 68(8), 439-458. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x

 5. Carr, A. C., & Maggini, S. (2017). Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients, 9(11), 1211. doi:10.3390/nu9111211

 6. Gombart, A. F., Pierre, A., & Maggini, S. (2020). A Review of Micronutrients and the Immune System-Working in Harmony to Reduce the Risk of Infection. Nutrients, 12(1), 236. doi:10.3390/nu12010236

 7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/keyfacts.htm

 8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Common Cold. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/dotw/common-cold/index.html

 9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Keep Your Hands Clean. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html

 10. Harvard Health Publishing. (2020). How to Boost Your Immune System. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system

 11. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Exercise: 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389

 12. National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). How Sleep Affects Your Immunity. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity

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