The flu is a common respiratory infection that can affect anyone and is particularly prevalent during the colder months. Flu rates this winter are already far higher than usual this time of year, which is not only putting a strain on an already overwhelmed NHS but is seriously affecting public health.
With Christmas around the corner, no one wants to fall ill and miss out on the festivities. Stay healthy and flu-free with our top tips on how to prevent the flu.
Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is crucial for supporting a strong immune system because it enables the body to produce proteins called cytokines, which help the body fight illnesses like the flu.
It is recommended that you get between 7-9 hours of sleep enough for good health. According to research, the immune system is much less efficient at resisting infection from viruses if you don’t get an adequate amount of sleep.
Eat your five a day
Fruit and vegetables (particularly green leafy vegetables) provide the body with many essential vitamins and minerals that support a healthy immune system. Specifically, they help increase the production of important immune cells such as white blood cells, which are responsible for killing invading pathogens. Fruit and vegetables are also high in antioxidants, which help protect immune cells from harmful free radicals and oxidative damage.
Some of the best fruit and veg for the immune system include:
Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit
Vitamin C is one of the most vital vitamins for fighting the flu. It plays a major role in supporting the production and proper function of white blood cells called lymphocytes and phagocytes, as well as acting as an antioxidant to help protect these immune cells from oxidative cell damage.
Vitamin D is another important vitamin for the immune system. It helps enhance the function of your white blood cells and is necessary for the activation of certain immune defences and processes including inflammation.
We obtain vitamin D through diet and direct exposure to sunlight. But in the winter, we are exposed to much less sunlight because the days are shorter and we spend less time outside, making it much harder to get enough vitamin D during this time.
Get yourself New Leaf’s essential well-being bundle which includes vitamins C and D and multivitamin tablets to help ensure you are meeting your daily vitamin and mineral requirements. Take these daily in the run-up to Christmas and beyond to strengthen your immune defences and help protect yourself from the flu well into the new year.
Exercise supports a strong immune system by reducing inflammation, lowering immune-suppressing stress hormones and increasing the circulation of white blood cells. Whilst exercise and Christmas don’t generally go hand-in-hand, ensuring you do some sort of daily physical activity can help keep the flu at bay. This could be anything from walking to swimming to yoga. Every little helps!
Avoid large crowds
As we learnt from COVID-19, large crowds and close contact with people allow respiratory infections to spread rapidly, particularly in confined spaces like offices and schools. If you want to avoid getting the flu before Christmas, try to avoid large social groups and keep your distance from others.