How to avoid a cold: 5 immune boosting tips

Everyone wants to know how to avoid a cold or the flu. If we take good care of ourselves through the cooler months we have a better chance of warding off those winter nasties. These 5 immune boosting tips may be just the place to start.

Bupa Aged Care’s Director for Medical Services and GP, Dr Tim Ross explains some key ways you can help boost your immune system to help you avoid a cold or the flu. 

1.  A healthy diet

Eating a consistently healthy diet year ‘round is best for your overall health, but may also help keep your immune system strong. That means enjoying a colourful mix of fruit and vegetables, which are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and act as immune boosting foods. It’s also important to opt for lean protein and wholegrains, and go easy on added sugar and alcohol, to keep your diet as healthy as possible.

It’s believed eating raw garlic may help boost the immune system and let’s face it, it’s delicious in those warming winter dishes. Good old fashioned home-made chicken soup can be nutritious and comforting, and something with a bit of kick (spice) can be tasty to eat when it’s cold outside or a cold has affected your ability to taste!

2.  Staying in shape

Staying fit is a great way to help keep you healthy and may also help keep your immune system firing on all cylinders to avoid a cold or the flu. That doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon – even a brisk walk for 20 minutes can be beneficial. And if you needed another reason to drag yourself out of bed on those chilly mornings, the release of those feel-good hormones, endorphins, may also help prevent illness.

3.  Sleep

Sleep is an immune boosting tool we all have access to. Making sure our bodies have time to rest and recover is important, not just to help us feel better through the day, but to help avoid a cold or the flu. While everyone’s body is different, it’s recommended adults get between 7-9 hours’ sleep a night. 

4.  Wash your hands regularly

While washing your hands often with soap and running water may not boost your immune system, it is one of the simplest and most effective ways to help protect you from catching a cold or the flu. This is because you can pick up the cold or flu virus by touching hands, or objects (e.g. door handle, phone), that someone with a cold or flu has touched. It is also best to avoid rubbing your eyes, or touching your nose or mouth if your hands are dirty, as this is how the infection gets into your body.

5.  Avoid stress

When we’re stressed our bodies release hormones which can affect our immune system. Finding a way to manage your stress or trying to avoid stressful situations may help. Perhaps it’s a matter of trying meditation, setting the alarm for 15 minutes earlier to avoid the daily rush out the door, or starting a new organisation system at home or work to make life that little bit more manageable.

While a strong immune system isn’t a guarantee that you won’t get sick, these simple tips may help you feel great every day and hopefully help you avoid catching a cold or flu, and coughing and spluttering through the winter months. 
If you would like to find out more about helpful health tips to help boost your immunity against a cold or the flu please don’t hesitate to contact your Bupa representative.
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