8 selfcare and immunity tips to see you through cold and flu season

With daylight savings now finished, we thought it might be timely to revisit the topic of immunity and selfcare as we head into the thick of cold and flu season.

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Below we round-up some essential tips for arming yourself with the best defence against bugs and virus-causing bacteria at this time of year. Plus, some tried-and-tips to consider if you are sick and want to beat the beast stat!

You’ve got to nourish to flourish!

Plenty of sleep

Don’t underestimate the importance of eight hours shut-eye. Sleep is essential for your body to function smoothly and optimally, and is especially important when it comes to a strong immune system. Ever wondered why after a period of stress (or big weekend!) you fall ill? It’s most likely because you haven’t been getting adequate, quality sleep. If you struggle with sleep, try one of our favourite sleep apps for a good night’s rest. If you’ve already got a case of the cold or flu, it’s critical to rest at home for obvious reasons too.

Drink water

Another underrated immunity and recovery booster is h2o. But how much water should we be drinking? A report found women should consume a total of approximately 2.7 litres of water from drinks and food each day, while men should get 3.7 litres daily. However, when you’re feeling under the weather, it’s even more vital to keep your fluids up.

Drinking plenty of water helps to flush out toxins and ensure your cells get all of the oxygen they need to function.

Warm water with lemon

Chronic cough? Throat feeling like razor blades? Boost the benefits of water by adding a squeeze of lemon, which boasts a myriad of health benefits. Lemons are a great source of vitamin C, which is known to boost the immune system, prevent disease, fight the common cold and protect cells. It’s also been found to help improve digestion and aid in detoxification. Warm water with lemon – instead of honey, which is high in sugar – is a soothing alternative for a tender throat.

Get the flu vaccine each year

Check if it’s free for you.

Stay warm

Rug up and make sure your home is at least 18 degrees Celsius.

A saltwater gargle

Soothe a sore throat quickly with a saltwater gargle. Try dissolving 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water to temporarily alleviate a sore throat.

Run a bath

Nothing relieves achy, tired muscles quicker than a warm, relaxing soak. Try adding scented bath salts or a few drops of a decongestant oil – like eucalyptus or peppermint – to your next bath

Netflix

If all else fails, embrace the opportunity to lie in bed, guilt-free and indulge in a quality (or trashy…) Netflix session 😉

Other tips that have been found to be effective in both prevention and speedy recovery are immunity-boosting supplements and of course, a healthy diet.

Everything you need to know about cold and flu season

As the days get shorter and temperatures drop, the cold and flu season is starting to rear its ugly head. It begs the question, why are we more prone to contagious bugs during the colder months?

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While most cases of the common cold and flu aren’t cause for serious concern and tend to go away by themselves, there are measures you can take to arm yourself against catching it in the first instance.

Cold vs. flu: What’s the difference?

Often the terms ‘cold’ and ‘flu’ are used interchangeably without a second thought, but there are actually some key differences worth noting.

First off, the similarities: both a cold and flu affect your airways and ease of breathing. They are also both caused by viruses.

Generally, a case of the common cold manifests with a trilogy of symptoms: a sore throat, blocked or runny nose, mild headache and coughing and sneezing, which lasts roughly 1-2 weeks. You’ll most likely feel more fatigued than normal, possibly a bit achy, but most of the time symptoms are confined to above the neck. There are more than 200 viruses that can cause the common cold, but don’t stress, most of the times they are harmless. In fact, approximately 25 percent of cases don’t show any symptoms at all!

The flu, on the other hand, derives from the influenza virus, and symptoms can be more severe. Usually, you’ll observe a sudden onset of symptoms lasting 7-10 days, although the cough and tiredness can remain long after other symptoms fade. The main difference in symptoms with the flu, is a fever (usually 30+ degrees Celsius), shivering, muscle aches and debilitating fatigue. It’s also more contagious than the common cold.

In most cases, mild-to-moderate symptoms will resolve on their own at home with bed rest, some TLC and a healthy immune system.

Why winter?

Colds and flus can occur at any time of year but you’re definitely most vulnerable in winter. Wondering why you’re more prone than in warmer months? Read on…

There are a couple of reasons, none of which are rain – according to experts, this is apparently a myth.

Respiratory infections are transferred more readily in the wintertime because we spend more time in enclosed spaces with closer face-to-face contact. Added to this, is the low humidity. Viruses tend to last longer at colder temperatures with less humidity.

In a nutshell, since viruses thrive in cold weather, we get sick more often.

Strengthening the immune system

After regular and stringent hand washing (at least 20 seconds), there are many effective ways you can help safeguard and strengthen your immune system.

Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces

Think: doorknobs, phone screens and benchtops.

Maintain a healthy, nutrient-rich diet

While it’s tempting to indulge in comfort foods during colder weather, make sure you’re still consuming lots of nutrients. Foods that boost the immune system include oranges (obviously), berries, leafy greens, nuts and seeds and fibre-rich foods.

Vitamin C

The most renowned supplement for immunity is vitamin C – and for good reason. Naturally found in many fruits and vegetables, it can also be taken via supplementation. It’s brimming with vital antioxidants that help to combat the winter chills and the destructive effects of free radicals on the body.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin”, is also a healthy habit worth adding to your daily routine. Despite plenty of sun during the summer months, a large proportion of us still fall short of their daily vitamin D requirements. According to research, lack of regular exposure to sunlight during the colder months may impact the immune system. Deficiencies in vitamin D may also lead to symptoms such as poor bone growth and cardiovascular problems.

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