Dr Hilary's top ten tips to avoid colds and flu

Dr Hilary's top ten tips to avoid colds and flu
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We spend on average more than half of the year feeling under the weather, according to new research. A study into the health and wellbeing of 2,000 people found the average person only feels 100 per cent fit and healthy on 171 days of the year.

Illness, tiredness and aches and pains mean most people operate at well below full tilt for more than six months of every year and half of our adult lifetime - equating to a shocking 34 years of feeling grotty.

Luckily, help is at hand in the form of TV health expert Dr Hilary, who offers these simple immune-boosting tips:

  1. Vitamin C. This contributes to the normal function of the immune system and can help prevent colds and flu. So this winter, eat foods that are high in Vitamin C, such as kale, strawberries, oranges and broccoli. You can also increase your vitamin C intake with a Tetley Super Green Immune or Tetley Super Fruits Immune with added Vitamin C - enjoy at least one mug a day as part of a varied, balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
  2. Keep hydrated. It is just as important to keep hydrated 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 hydration levels can drop fast. When you're outside in the cold for long periods of time, 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 keeping fluid intake high is important whether you are indoors in the warm or outdoors in the cold.
  3. Exercise. When the cold sets in we may not feel so keen on that walk, run or cycle. Keep your exercise regimes going by visiting the gym, taking a new class or going swimming. Invest in some waterproof gear if you'll be out and about in wet weather.
  4. Vitamin B6. This vitamin assists in forming haemoglobin – the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body and helps with the reduction of tiredness. To combat winter fatigue, eat plenty of Vitamin B6-rich foods like chicken, vegetables, brown rice and eggs.
  5. Keep your head warm. 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.
  6. Vitamin D. This is the sunshine vitamin and is needed to keep our bones and teeth healthy. It is also said to have an effect on mood. Deficiency is common and so is seasonable affective disorder (SAD), or winter blues, which studies suggest that up to 15 per cent 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 Vitamin D, or fortified breakfast cereals with added Vitamin D.
  7. De-stress. Stress hormones trigger anti-immune reactions. Winter can be a hectic time with many social events to arrange and attend. Make sure you take time out to relax to keep stress levels at bay. Mindfulness meditation is helpful for some people, as is exercise. 
  8. Keep bugs at bay. Use antibacterial hand wash and put used tissues in the bin. These two small measures make a big difference when it comes to fighting the spread of germs.
  9. Dress carefully. Plan your winter wardrobe – instead of heavy chunky garments opt for layers, which trap hot air. You can them remove layers as needed, making it easier to regulate your temperature.
  10. Be positive. Looking on the bright side can be good for your health, as research suggests 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.

Tips from Tetley Tea

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