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10 Ways to Outsmart Colds and Flu This Winter

On average, we spend more than half the year feeling under the weather, according to new research. That’s way too many days feeling sick and tired!

Luckily, help is at hand in the form of Dr. Hilary Jones, a British M.D. and health advisor for Good Morning Britain. Here are his simple, immune-boosting tips so you can outsmart germs this winter:

Load up on C. Vitamin C regulates the immune system and can help prevent colds and flu.This winter, eat foods that are high in vitamin C. Kale, strawberries, oranges, and broccoli are all good choices. You can also increase your vitamin C intake with green tea or fruit-based herbal teas.

Keep hydrated. It is just as important to drink up in the winter as it is in the summer. With central heating blasting when we are indoors, the air can get hot and dry, and fluid levels can drop fast. When you’re outside in the cold, the body’s thirst response can become diminished as the blood vessels constrict to keep the blood and heat in the body’s core. This fools the body into thinking it is properly hydrated, which means you don’t feel as thirsty as you should. So drink water or mugs of tea or hot cider.

Exercise. When the cold sets in people aren’t so keen on walking or running outside. Keep active by taking a new exercise class or going swimming. Invest in some waterproof gear if you’ll be out and about in wet weather.

Get your vitamin B6. This vitamin helps form hemoglobin–the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body and reduces feelings of fatigue. To combat winter exhaustion, eat plenty of vitamin B6-rich foods like chicken, vegetables, brown rice, and eggs.

Invest in a wooly scarf. Research has shown that cold noses really do lower our immune systems. So pull up those scarves and keep your nose toasty when out in the cold.

Don’t forget your Ds. Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, which we need to keep our bones and teeth healthy. It is also said to have an effect on mood. Deficiency is common and so is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which studies suggest that up to 15 percent of us suffer from. Unfortunately your body can’t make vitamin D from sunlight during the winter months, but you can eat oily fish and eggs, which are naturally rich in D, or fortified breakfast cereals with added vitamin D.

De-stress. Stress hormones trigger anti-immune reactions. The holiday season can be a hectic time with many social events to arrange and attend. Make sure you take time out to relax with mindfulness meditation, exercise, or even talking to a good friend.

Keep bugs at bay. Wash your hands often (or use hand sanitizer when you can’t get to a sink) and toss tissues after you use them. These two small measures make a big difference when it comes to fighting the spread of germs.

Plan out your winter wardrobe. Instead of heavy, chunky garments opt for layers, which trap hot air. You can then remove sweaters or heavier clothes as needed, making it easier to regulate your temperature.

Be positive. Looking on the bright side can be good for your health; studies suggest that positive people get fewer colds. Try writing a gratitude diary on a daily basis, so you can identify and appreciate the things that are going right for you. Or simply think of one thing you are grateful for on the way to work. It will make a BIG difference.

–Lizzy Dening


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