If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that these are the perfect conditions to be exposed to viruses and bacteria.
With the number of people sniffing around us increasing every day, you may be wondering what you can do to avoid catching a cold.
Here’s an in-depth look at the best ways to avoid getting sick this winter.
1. Have a diet rich in antioxidants
A balanced and nutritious diet is the best way to support your body during the winter season and keep your immune system strong.
A wise man once said, “eat the rainbow”, meaning to try to have as many colors of the rainbow as possible on your plate. Think broccoli for green and kale for purple.
Paying attention to consuming healthy amounts of protein and fiber is also important for keeping your body strong.
2. Take vitamin supplements
Marilia Chamon, founder and nutritional therapist at Gutfulness Nutrition, explains, “There are specific micronutrients that the body needs for normal immune system function, such as vitamins A, C, D, and trace minerals like zinc.”
Ideally, your diet should be healthy enough to give you most, if not all, of the vitamins and minerals your immune system needs. But vitamin D, which we usually get from direct sunlight, can be hard to get at healthy levels during the winter months without the help of supplements.
Dr Deborah Lee, of Dr Fox online pharmacy, also advises vegans and vegetarians to take vitamin B12 supplements. The company says: “Vegans and vegetarians are at high risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, which causes an underactive immune system. This group is advised to eat foods fortified with vitamin B12 two to three times a day and it would be advisable to take vitamin B12 supplements.
3. Prioritize relaxation
The stress hormone, cortisol, weakens our immune system’s ability to fight infection.
Therefore, it’s important that you make time to unwind and engage in relaxing activities, such as yoga, meditation, or journaling.
Alternatively, you can make time to see your friends, take a vacation, or read a book if you feel it helps you relax.
4. Don’t touch your face
Given the number of things we touch throughout the day, it’s not wise to touch your face unless you’ve washed or sanitized your hands.
Dr Roger Henderson, primary care physician and spokesperson for Olbas, advises: “The cold virus is often carried on your hands and then enters your body through your eyes, nose or mouth. So, minimize the risk of catching a cold by washing your hands regularly.
“To get rid of germs, scrub your hands vigorously with lots of soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds.”
5. Clean your phone
Think about where your phone has been in the last 24 hours: the bathroom cubicle, the kitchen counter at the office, the restaurant table, in the hands of your friends as they enter their Instagram handle…
Now, think of all the germs from those spots touching your face.
If that made you shake your head in disgust, then you’ll agree that sanitizing your phone on a regular basis will be a great way to keep viruses at bay.
If you need more convincing; a 2012 study at the University of Arizona found that cell phones can carry up to 10 times the amount of bacteria found on toilet seats.
Studies show that sleep is one of the most important factors when it comes to the strength of the immune system and overall well-being.
Those who regularly sleep less than seven hours a night are three times more likely to catch a cold than those who sleep eight or more hours.
So, make sure you have a healthy sleep schedule to support your health.
7. Try cryotherapy
In recent years, cryotherapy has become a favorite health hack for celebrities, with many sharing videos of themselves in cryochambers or ice baths on social media.
If you opt for a cryochamber in a wellness facility, it will involve using cold, dry vapors to alert your skin’s receptors and elicit a natural fight-or-flight response.
This will lead to the blood vessels dilating and sending oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the extremities.
John Attard, managing director of The Body Lab, explains the benefits, saying: “Cryotherapy helps release more significant amounts of endorphins in the body and as a result, we lower our cortisol levels and strengthen our immune system, which is important in the winter when colds are generally more frequent.
8. Drink more water and less alcohol (and from your glass)
Those who don’t drink enough water and become further dehydrated from binge drinking are more likely to have weaker immune systems and catch a cold.
Christmas and New Year’s parties are usually centered around festive cocktails and other alcoholic beverages. But watch how much you drink and try to balance that out by rehydrating your body afterward.
While we’re talking drinks, it’s also wise to label your glass so you don’t end up exchanging germs with your family and friends and risk making each other sick.