Hands up if you are prone to coughs, colds, sniffles and generally feeling a bit 'ick' in winter? *raises hand*
I love the colder months, but absolutely loathe the number of bugs that start to spread at this time of year. At the start of last winter, I was working for a big University and I seemed to be constantly fighting one bug or another, so this year, I'm taking action with Operation Zap that Cold! If your health suffers at the onset of winter, read on!
The reasons why we are more prone to infection in the winter are varied: we spend more time indoors where UV light is unable to kill some viruses, air conditioning units spread viruses across buildings, our diets change and often include less fruit and vegetables, and children returning to school is obviously a hotbed for bacteria spreading! All in all, making it through the winter without a sniffle is a tough challenge. My fight this year begins with taking a cocktail of supplements to give my body a much needed immunity boost.
I'm currently taking Vitamin C and a high dose of Echinancea to keep the bugs at bay. Vitamin C is an essential element for a healthy immune systems, and Echinacea is proven to reduce the risk of catching a cold by half. Bee Propolis and Blue Green Algae supplements are also excellent anti-viral supplements, but I stopped taking both given the high dosages required (bee propolis is taken up to 8 times a day!). Taking a daily zinc supplement helps the body to fight off rogue viruses, but you can also get zinc from your diet by eating lean meat, cereals and seafood. Bright coloured vegetables not only add a bit of vibrancy to your meals but give you a much-needed boost of essential vitamins: make sure to add red, orange and dark green vegetables to your daily diet.
Although they've been on sale in every chemist since the outbreak of swine flu, alcohol hand gels are not always recommended by medics on the grounds that they reduce our immunity to bacteria that the body can easily fight off. A very senior medical colleague of mine once said to me that we shouldn't even wash our hands that often, which really made me think twice about tucking into the sandwich platter he'd just unwrapped! They're also incredibly drying for skin, so if you can, avoid using them unless you have an immune deficiency that requires you to do so.
Finally, if you are a glasses or contact lens wearer, you can take comfort in knowing that you at a reduced risk of picking up bugs than those of us who don't wear them. The eyes are one of the easiest routes for infection into the body, so you have a handy first line of defence!
Image courtesy of listzblog.com