Sunday, 30 October 2016

13 Ways To Stay Healthy This Winter

Photo credit: via photopin (license) Changes Made

I really struggle to stay healthy during the winter especially as I have a low immune system but over the years I've picked up a few tips for staying healthy which may help you this winter.

1) Get the Flu jab
Flu jabs are free on the NHS for those who are considered more vulnerable. This includes women who are pregnant, those with diabetes, those with chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma (if on steroids) those with chronic Kidney disease, those with hepatitis and those with a weaker immune system due to medication or chemotherapy. The flu jab is also free for carers looking after someone else who is sick and disabled as well as for frontline health and social care workers. See the NHS page for more info.

The flu jab is available to everyone nationwide at most chemists, and it costs around £5-10. I recommend having one if you work with the public or in a setting with lots of people such as in a school, if you're self employed and can't afford time off or if you spend a lot of time on public transport. (I used to take a tram and then two trains to work in the morning & then same again in the evening and worked out that I was in close contact with at least 120 commuters a day in packed carriages.)

2) Use Hand Sanitisers and Wipes
Look for the antibacterial ones. Carex Complete Moisture Plus Hand gel is good because it also moisturisers your hands at the same time whereas continued use with some hand gels can leave your hands dry and sore. It also smells nice too and is small enough to pop it into your handbag and take it with you. I use these to wipe down my mobile phone too, because mobiles heat up creating the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. I often leave my mobile out on caf√© coffee tables and library desks and use them after handling cash etc, so my mobile probably isn't very clean. This also cuts down spots developing around the cheek/jaw area too. Be careful when cleaning mobiles to turn them off first and be careful not to get the speaker too damp.

3) Try Not To Touch Your Face
I'm definitely guilty of touching my face and resting my chin on my hand, or having my hand near my mouth. Most cold and flu viruses are spread by direct contact and enter the body through the mouth, eyes and nose. Therefore try not to touch your mouth, nose and eyes after handling things if you can't wash them first. At work this would be things such as an office stapler, photocopier or shared computer, on a shopping trip it would be cash and handrails on public transport. This should also cut down spots breaking out on your face as well.

4) Wipe Clean Your Desk First if You're Going to Eat
It has been found that the average workplace desk can be 400 times dirtier than the office toilet seat according to The Cleaning Services group (Medicare Daily.) Office toilets contain around 49 microbes, or “germs” per square inch on average, while office telephones can have over 25,000 germs per square inch,  keyboards and computer mice contain between 1,000 to 3,000 germs. Germs like the common cold can last on computer keyboards and mice for up to 72 hours and  MRSA can last anywhere between six weeks to seven months. Not washing your hands, eating at your desk, and not sanitising your desk at all adds to the high germ count.Wiping down surfaces with a anti-bacterial  wet wipe, soap or cleaning spray before you eat as well as a regularly wiping down the office telephone, keyboard and mouse will help.

5) Be a Savvy Shopper..Pay With Contactless.
As well as being quicker paying by contactless means that you don't have to actually touch the pin key pad which will have been handled by tens if not hundreds of hands belonging to people with coughs, colds etc. I would definitely recommend paying this way in a chemist.

6) Wrap Up Warm- Wear Scarves, Snoods, Hats, Vests and Thermal Underwear
If your job requires a lot of speaking such as call centre work or teaching I've found that keeping your throat and neck warm by wearing a scarf or snood really protects your from coughs and sore throats. Having asthma I find snoods great as they keep both your nose and mouth warm. Wool and fleece are good fabrics. Even wearing a vest or t-shirt under your shirt/top can make a difference. I'd say that thermal underwear is a good investment, silk is great as it's light but keeps you warm I've bought some from Patra they're a little bit pricey but they're worth it.

7) Drinking Hot drinks
I've found having a hot drink after being stuck in the cold or rain really helps to stop cold and coughs developing- mainly I drink hot Ribena and Barley Water once I've got home.

8)  Use Cold Defence Nasal  spray
I haven't actually tried this but have heard that some people swear by Cold Defence Nasal sprays.

9) Exercise
Just taking a brisk walk for 30-45 minutes a day boosts the immune system and can reduce infections such as colds.

10)  Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated fats.
A diet of fresh fruit and vegetables that vary in colour (e,g.  Red cabbage/red onions/aubergines, oranges, yellow peppers and greens) should give you all the vitamins you need. Proteins are important as well as eating food that is low in sugar and fat. Personally I think a good diet definitely helps but I find that it doesn't make much difference to me as my immune system is so rubbish. Obviously loading up on chocolate, pastries and sweets isn't going to give you the nutrients your body needs, leaving it vulnerable picking up viruses without a strong immune system to flight them.

11) Taking Vitamin and Oil Supplements
It may be a good idea to stock up on vitamin and oil supplements during the winter. I used to order them online from Healthy Direct which is now become Healthy Span, I found that they were good value for money offering higher strengths than Boots/Superdrug at reasonable prices. Alternatively Holland and Barrett's sell a variety of high quality supplements although I find them expensive.

12) Don't Light Up
Smoking a single cigarette can damage the hairs that line the nose for 30-40 minutes which means they aren't able to sweep cold and flu viruses out of nasal passages. Smoking also weakens the immune system even if it's passive smoking.

13) Get Some Rest
Try not to burn the candles at both ends. Although you may not feel stressed, late nights and early rises due to late night work or socialising can put a strain on your immune system and leave you feeling run down and vulnerable to illness. Make sure you catch up on your sleep and have a night/day in and have some me time- having a nice bath, cosy up reading a book or watching movies anything that makes you relax, slow down and rest.

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