5 ways to stay flu-free through winter
Don't resign yourself to coughs and sniffles - there's plenty you can do to keep them at bay
Lay healthy foundations
Sleep, exercise and diet make a huge difference. People who walk briskly for 40 minutes a day, sleep for at least eight hours a night and have a diet rich in fresh fruit and veg are much less likely to develop colds. Stock up on immune boosters such as Echinaforce (£3.95 for 15ml from health-food stores) and Sambucol (£9.19 for 120ml from Boots) to prevent and fight cold and flu viruses.
Clean up your act
Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly – for as long as it would take to sing two rounds of Happy Birthday! Use hand sanitisers when you’re out, and keep your home and workspace scrupulously clean. ‘If you change work stations, clean the phone and keyboard with a disinfectant wipe before you start – the last user’s cold and flu germs can live there for up to 48 hours,’ says Dr Lisa Ackerley, a Professor of Environmental Health at Salford University.
Break bad habits
Nail biting, eye rubbing and constantly touching your face are surefire ways to lead germs to their target – you. Quitting smoking and cutting down on sugar and alcohol will also help in the fight against flu, as they all deplete the immune system.
Keep kids squeaky clean
Children aged five to 19 are responsible for most flu transmission, according to a study in the journal Science, with only half of kids washing their hands after using the loo. Dr George Kassianos, spokesman on immunisation for the Royal College of GPs says: ‘Research shows that for every 422 children vaccinated in Japan, one death from flu in an elderly person was prevented.’
Get a vaccine
Only certain groups – pregnant women, carers, health workers, over 65s, and those with a chronic illness – qualify for the flu jab on the NHS, but no one wants to be knocked out by flu for a week or two. ‘Anyone can pay £10-£15 for a jab at their local pharmacy,’ says Dr Kassianos.