10 ways to beat colds and flu this winter

Fight back against illness this winter by making a few simple tweaks to your daily routine.

Whether it’s a slice of lemon or a sprinkle of orange zest, citrus is loaded with vitamin C and is a great immunity booster.

Get your day off to the right start by drinking a glass of hot water with the juice of half a lemon added to it.

If you’ve ever experienced the flu with its fever, muscle aches, fatigue and congestion, you’ll know it’s nothing to be taken lightly – and indeed, it isn’t.

Every year in Australia, influenza causes 3500 deaths, about 18,000 hospitalisations and is responsible for more than 300,000 GP consultations, according to Influenza Specialist Group.

Flu vaccinations offer the best protection, but consider incorporating the following tips into your day-to-day routine to fortify your body against the flu and common cold.

Get plenty of sleep

Dropping an hour or two of sleep here and there may not seem like such a big deal — until you read the study from the University of Washington, which analysed blood samples from pairs of identical twins with differing sleep patterns and found the twin who enjoyed more sleep had a more robust immune system.

Before bed, drink a warm glass of milk or have a hot bath to help you relax, and aim to get a straight eight hours of sleep to give yourself that extra boost.

Exercise regularly – even if you don’t want to!

Exercise regularly during the winter months to help beat colds and flu.

Don’t wait for an open invitation in the form of sunshine and butterflies; exercising in cold, grey weather could be better for you than you realise, say researchers at Maastricht University in The Netherlands.

They found that regular exercise in cold weather can increase the number of calories you burn during your usual activities (the cold stimulates the body to use more “brown fat” — the kind that helps you use up calories to stay warm, apparently).

And as if you needed any more motivation — a Finnish study has found swimming in cold water two to three times a week significantly elevates white cell counts, helping research subjects protect their bodies from seasonal bugs.

If you’re not keen on swimming in the ocean in winter, consider walking briskly for just 30 minutes a day.

Don’t forget to wash your hands

One in four commuters has bacteria from faecal matter on their hands, according to London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine researchers, who swabbed commuters as they went about their day.

If that’s not enough to convince you to wash your hands more often (and perhaps stop shaking quite so many hands), a study from the University of Colorado has shown that students who washed their hands more often experienced fewer illnesses related to flu and the common cold.

Give your diet a winter makeover

Add a few more serves to your daily fruit and veg intake and you could significantly increase your immunity to bugs, say researchers from Queen’s University in Belfast.

A study on responses to a pneumonia vaccine found volunteers who increased their daily intake to five serves a day triggered greater antibody responses compared with those who only ate two serves.

Load up your plate with veggies this winter so you can beat colds and flu.

A simple diet trick…

Add some extra vegetables to your daily diet, but be sure to also bulk up your meals with plenty of garlic, yoghurt and chicken soup — studies show each one is a power food when it comes to boosting immunity.

While you’re enjoying the many benefits of the cooler months, also consider:

Hugging it out with loved ones

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have found that those who embrace friends and family regularly are less likely to catch colds and other infectious diseases.

Spending some time sitting in front of an open fire

The crackling sounds, coupled with the fire’s orange glow, lowers stress and blood pressure, which in turn leads to a boost in immunity, according to a study from the University of Alabama.

Replacing coffee with black tea

People who drank five cups of black tea a day for two weeks were found to have 10 times more virus-fighting properties in their blood than others who drank a placebo hot drink, say researchers from Harvard.

Essentials for flu season

Ensure you never run out of these must-have items from Chemist Warehouse.

Don’t let winter derail your wellbeing goals! Discover seven easy ways to keep your wellness goals on track this winter.

Written by Dilvin Yasa