Winter Health Check: How to Keep the Common Cold at Bay

Unless you live in a bubble, staying away from germs is pretty much impossible. Whenever you walk down the street, touch a product or push a door open, you are already compromised. 

In the winter months, the common cold runs rife. Runny noses, sneezes and a sore throat are pretty much an expectation. Fortunately, there are a few small changes you can make to keep the common cold as bay. Think of it as a winter health check. 

Here’s a simple guide to help you on your way:

Adopt a healthy diet

Put down the chocolate bar and listen closely! During the winter months, the chances of infections and illnesses are at their peak. Your natural defences are at more threat of attack, and your immune system is working overtime. 

By eating a well-balanced, healthy diet, you can ensure your body gets all the vitamins and nutrients it needs. With that in mind, try and focus on these vitamin-rich foods:

  • Vitamin C: a powerful antioxidant and essential nutrient; you need vitamin C to stay strong and healthy. Add citrus, leafy green vegetables, strawberries, bell peppers, kiwis and more to keep you fighting fit!
  • Vitamin E: the ying to vitamin C’s yang, vitamin E helps your immune system fight off infections. Widely found in leafy greens like spinach and kale, avocados, oily fish, nuts and seeds, there’s a lot to like
  • Vitamin B6: essential for creating new red cells, transporting oxygen around your body and keeping your immunes system healthy! Find B6 in chickpeas, bananas, tuna and lean poultry
  • Zinc: boosting immunity and producing new enzymes, you need a healthy dose of zinc in your life! You can find it in leafy green vegetables, cashew nuts, dairy products and meat

Don’t forget to wash your hands

One of your body’s best defences against germs it getting rid of them on the outside. Regular handwashing can remove up to 99% of all harmful bacteria, just with a simple bar of soap. Make sure you lather your soap for at least 20 seconds before washing away the soapy suds. 

When you don’t have access to handwashing facilities, carry hand sanitiser around in your pocket. That way, if you want to grab a bite to eat in your lunch break or you need to go to a supermarket in a pandemic, you’ve got everything you need with you. 

Get moving!

Dark mornings and early nights are enough to put anyone off from getting outside. Avoiding exercise altogether is a bot of a no-no. You need to get your heart pumping one way or another, so whether that’s a brisk walk or run, or an at-home HITT session, there are many fun options to choose from. 

The harder your heart works, the better your blood flow and circulation. In essence, you are strengthening your heart and immune system while having a jog around the park! Your mood is lifted, and you’re more likely to have a better nights sleep too. Win, win. 

Healing sleep

Fighting a cold is less of a challenge when you embrace your body’s natural processes. You need a healthy amount of sleep for your body to function correctly. As you sleep, new skin cells are made, cells are healed, and your body replenishes vital nutrients to keep your immune system in check. 

Broken, interrupted sleep inhibits our body’s natural hormone and protein production, halting the much-needed healing we need as we sleep. 

So, switch off your screens, your phone, stop the caffeine intake way before bed and try and relax. You need it to get better!

Accept the flu jab!

If you want to give a massive stumbling block to colds and flu, go and have a flu vaccination. Offered free on the NHS to anyone 65 or over, those who are pregnant, children and those with certain medical conditions are actively encouraged to have the flu vaccine.

Local pharmacies can also perform the jab, so have a look at what’s on offer when you next pop in to browse or collect a prescription. 

Find time for yourself

Keeping stress levels down and fully embracing the time to relax will help your immune system to fight off the common cold. Anyone who suffers from anxiety, are likely to have encountered its physical symptoms. Likewise, too much stress can manifest itself in a plethora of ways. Our bodies and minds need time to switch off. So find your stress relief!

Why not take up running, yoga or meditation? Find a local exercise class or sports club! If it’s taking a step back and having a bath or getting into a good book, do it! Your immune system needs all the help it can get, and so do you!

What are the stumbling blocks in your life? Too much stress, not enough sleep, or an unhealthy lifestyle? Whatever is compromising your immune system will make fighting the common cold even harder. So make some simple changes to beat the common cold.