The study found 46 per cent of Brits think winter is bad for their health with half saying they are more likely to be ill during the season than any other time of year with around two colds and two days off work from September to February.
Forty-one per cent stated they are more affected by colds and flu during the winter months; researchers, from OnePoll.com, also found 52 per cent see their diet change as they move into the winter months.
Almost two thirds turn to comfort food as the temperature drops, while 56 per cent eat less salad and 35 per cent consume more sugary treats. Others eat more fast food, less fruit and vegetables and drink less water.
What can you do to safeguard your health?
Eat a Mediterranean style diet: If your immune system is weakened by lifestyle factors like ageing, lack of sleep, stress or smoking, you’re much more likely to get ill. To counteract this, aim to eat a varied Mediterranean-style diet that includes wholegrains, beans, fruit, vegetables, seafood, olive oil, onions and garlic.
Top-up on…iron: Lean meat is an important source of iron which is needed for immune cells to fight infections, so make sure that’s a part of your diet, too. If you follow a plant-based diet, iron is found in dark-green leaves, whole grains, pulses and dried fruit.
Top-up on…vitamin D: Foods fortified with vitamin D will support winter immunity when you’re unable to make vitamin D in your skin (although a vitamin D supplement is also needed). Deficiencies in vitamin D could lead to a weaker immune system, making it easier for you to fall ill. Vitamin D directly interacts with the cells responsible for fighting infection and several studies have shown links between deficiency and respiratory tract infections like colds, bronchitis and pneumonia. Available in different formats now gummies, sprays and tablets formulated for 50 plus and Vitamin D3 is one of the best sources to take.
Top up on…turmeric: This nutrient’s active ingredient, curcumin, is a powerful antioxidant which may help to support immune function by protecting against the free radicals that cause disease.
Top up on…vitamin C: Research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that ensuring you’re taking enough vitamin C may help the immune system ward off colds and flu, especially in those who are stressed.4Although vitamin C supplements will not stop you from catching a cold, studies have shown taking this supplement can reduce their severity and duration. Be mind of high sodium content in Effervescent tablets.
Top up on…vitamin B6: Each B vitamin plays an important role in the body, including B6 which is involved in amino acid metabolism, red cell production and the creation of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals).7 It also contributes to the normal function of the immune system as well as the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.
Lifestyle changes that could stop you getting a cold
A child under six or an older adult has an un-primed immune system compared with someone in their 30s. Namely, a child’s immune system hasn’t fully matured and – if they’ve never been in contact with a certain illness before – they may not be immune to it. You can expect a child to get a cold eight or more times in a year.
Any type of exercise – from a cycle ride to a yoga session or even a brisk walk – for at least half an hour on most days will give your immune system a boost. Be careful not to push your body too hard if you’re already feeling under the weather, though, as over-exercising supresses immunity.
Make sure to always cough into a tissue and discard afterwards and encourage your kids to do the same, as they’re constantly bringing home nasty bugs from the school cafeteria or playground. Another good tip is to avoid sharing. It might be tempting but sharing cups and glasses – even with loved ones – means you’ll dramatically increase your chances of catching a lurgy.
- Lack of sleep
When you sleep less than the recommended seven to eight hours a night this can negatively affect your immune system. It also makes you prone to serious medical conditions such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. If you’re struggling to get to sleep take a look at these soothing drinks that could help you settle into your slumber.
If you’re constantly stressed your body will find a way to tell you. Stress hormones weaken your immune system – meaning people under chronic stress are more susceptible to viral illnesses like the flu. They also prolong your recovery time.
Smoking damages and inactivates the immune cells that fight infection, making the battle against illness that much harder. This process can be reversed if cigarettes are given up.
For more tips and advice for staying healthy in winter visit our health channel.Last modified: September 14, 2021