It’s that time of the year again, when the cold and flu season begins to draw closer as the temperature starts to drop. The influenza virus (aka ‘the flu’) can be hard to avoid as it can spread easily by infected people through coughing, sneezing or even talking. Often, cough and sneeze droplets can contaminate hard surfaces and increase the risk of infection. Thankfully, cooler temperatures are also a time for fresh winter vegetables and warm, nutritious soups that can work wonders to improve your immunity.
Tips to help you prepare for the cold and flu season
Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap, especially before eating and after using the toilet. This helps to reduce the number of microbes on them in most situations. When soap and water are not available and you are out and about, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser containing at least 60% alcohol. Pocket-sized hand sanitisers are especially handy to pack into school bags and are a great way to help reinforce the importance of hand hygiene amongst children. Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.
The flu virus can live on hard surfaces increasing the risk for those who may touch it and then touch their eyes, nose and mouth.3 Regularly wipe down and sanitise frequently touched and shared hard surfaces such as phone handsets, desks, bench tops, door knobs, toilet seats, taps, etc.
Help support your immune system’s response by eating a diet rich in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.4 It is recommended you eat at least two servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables, especially red and green coloured foods that contain protective nutrients to help support your immune system.
- Foods rich in vitamin C: oranges, red capsicums and tomatoes
- Foods rich in zinc: wholegrains, nuts, seeds, plain yoghurt, meat, poultry and seafood
- Natural yoghurt is also a good source of probiotics which helps to maintain a healthy gut
Drink your fluids
Keep yourself hydrated during the cold and flu season by drinking lots of water. Soups and broths infused with winter vegetables and intense flavours can help you manage the symptoms of a cold and the flu, while also boosting your immune system with a nutritious diet.
- Exercise regularly to help maintain fitness levels and a healthy weight.
- Get outside for fresh air and sunlight as this may help to reduce stress levels and support your immune system’s response.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth after touching surfaces which may be contaminated.
3 National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) influenza fact sheet, March 2019