In the UK we’re all familiar with the cold and flu season. Every October we almost expect to come down with at least a mild cold. Recent years have seen us kept indoors over the holiday period, creating a physical barrier to normal cold and flu circulation. This year, many people are concerned that we’ve lost our natural immunity to the standard common cold. Fortunately, there are many things you can do this winter to keep your family safe and well. Try these handy hints and tips for keeping your family healthy during the cold and flu season.
Eat A Balanced And Healthy Diet
Winter immediately conjures up images of chocolate, cake and all our favourite foods. But eating foods with a high-vitamin content is essential for keeping our bodies fighting fit and ready to ward off any incoming cold or flu. Keep eating your five a day and stay stocked up on easily accessible fruits and vegetables for snacks. You could also invest in dietary supplements to boost your vitamin intake. An approved online pharmacy is a good place to order your vitamins from. They should be able to advise you on the recommended intake of each vitamin.
Good winter vitamins and food sources include:
- Vitamin A – to help boost your body’s defence against illness. Can be found in cheese, eggs, spinach, carrots and apricots.
- Vitamin C – promotes healthy skin, blood vessels, bones and wound healing. Good food sources include oranges, strawberries and potatoes.
- Vitamin D – boosts the immune system. Over the winter this is even more important as we usually get Vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D is usually found in red meat, sardines and tuna, so vegetarians and vegans should definitely invest in a Vitamin D supplement over the winter months.
Stay Updated With Your Vaccinations
As we enter the winter, many individuals are eligible for both the flu jab and their COVID-19 booster. Regulations for the COVID-19 booster are frequently updated on the NHS website here. You may be eligible for the flu jab if you are over 50, pregnant, or have pre-existing health conditions. Even if you and your family feel fighting fit, getting vaccinated can help protect you from potential ill health. If you have older or more vulnerable family members, they may also be eligible for additional vaccinations like the pneumococcal (PPV) vaccine, which protects from pneumonia, or the shingles vaccine.
Get Moving And Stay Active
With the winter chill, nothing seems more enticing than staying under your duvet. Yet staying active is an important part of the winter wellbeing checklist. Keeping physically healthy is an essential part of both mental and physical health. If you find yourself stressed at work as your day job ramps up towards the end of the year, exercise is also an excellent way to relax. While getting outdoors is important, if you are struggling to go outside for exercise, then have a backup plan. Use an online yoga tutorial indoors, or head to the gym.
Invest In Winter Wear
Make sure your wardrobe is winter ready. Invest in layers of clothing like a warm coat that you can always take off if you find yourself overheating. When exercising, it’s also equally important to wrap up in winter gym gear. Being cold isn't going to automatically make you sick, but your body has to work harder to keep warm. This weakens your immune system. The longer you spend without winter wear in the cold, the harder your body has to work and the less resilient your immune system will be.
Drink Plenty Of Water
Water is an essential part of staying healthy. It keeps your cells functioning normally, keeps fluids in your body for perspiration and digestion, and keeps you hydrated. Your body is at least 60% water, so a regular intake is essential for ensuring your body functions. It also protects your joints and spinal cord by keeping them moist and acting as a cushion. Recommended intake is 8-10 cups of water a day.
Dehydration is dangerous for the body, and can cause headaches, dizziness, tiredness and dry skin. It can hinder your ability to think and severe dehydration counts as a medical emergency. Staying hydrated over the winter is as equally important as summer because it boosts your immune system and helps your body fight off cold and flu.
Getting The Right Amount Of Sleep
Our bodies naturally want to sleep more in the winter, as the reduced exposure to light tricks our body into thinking it’s time for bed. Good sleep is linked to a lower risk of a heart attack, stroke, diabetes and even depression. Eight hours of sleep will keep your body healthy this winter. However, too much sleep is also bad for you, and increases the risk of cardiovascular complications in the same way that too little sleep does.
Keep In Touch With Friends And Family
At least 10% of adults in the UK reported feeling lonely last winter. Loneliness is linked to an increased risk of depression, and can be linked to a wide range of severe health complications. For older family members, having regular contact with family members can boost brain function and reduce the chances of dementia. Keep you and your family’s mental health strong this winter by keeping in touch with friends and family.
Give Yourself A Break And Relax
While keeping your family healthy is a noble task, remember that stress is also bad for your health. Stress can weaken your immune system, and put your body under all sorts of extra pressure. Treat yourself to that bath, try an online yoga class, or sit and read that book you’ve been meaning to catch up on. Take it easy.
Although the cold and flu season can seem a particularly scary time with the recent events of 2020-2021, there’s no reason why you can’t keep your family safe and healthy. Stay hydrated and active, and keep in touch with your loved ones throughout the winter season. Wishing you all a safe and relaxing winter period.