It’s that time of year again.
There are the hacking coughs and sneezes that surround you, everywhere you go.
The day care plagues… the sick leave… the sleepless nights spent nursing family members back to health.
Cold and flu season is never fun. But this year, protecting your family is more important than ever.
Last year’s flu season was Australia’s deadliest in at least a quarter of a century. The Department of Health recorded more than 170,000 cases – a 156% increase on the year before. More than 70 people died, including previously healthy adults, dozens of elderly and, tragically, a young child.
To help you and your loved ones stay healthy this winter, we’ve compiled our top five tips for keeping winter colds and flus at bay:
1. The flu vaccine
Aussies have been flocking to get the flu jab in unprecedented numbers this year, in response to last year’s statistics. The flu season lasts until the end of September, so if you haven’t already, take your family to your GP to get the vaccine as soon as possible. It costs as little as $10 for adults and is now free for children under five in most states. It’s also free for pregnant women, the elderly (65+) and many others with health conditions that put them at higher risk.
Don’t rely on alcohol-based hand sanitisers to protect you from colds and the flu. They’re brilliant at killing bacteria, but less effective against viruses. Most medical experts agree nothing beats good old-fashioned hand-washing with soap and warm water. Encourage family members to wash for 20 seconds when they get home from work or school, as well as before every meal.
3. Good nutrition
In the words of Hippocrates: “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. A balanced diet including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables helps your body fight illness. Citrus fruits, raw garlic and blueberries can also give your immune system a boost. If you’re not sure you’re meeting your nutritional needs through food intake alone, consider supplementing your diet with a nutritional milk powder such as those from Oz Farm. Oz Farm’s 100% Australian-made range includes formulas specifically created for every age, from babies through to pregnant women and the elderly. They’re packed with protein, zinc, iron and vitamins – including vitamin D, which our bodies tend to be lacking in winter.
4. Sleep well
Research shows sleep deprivation suppresses immune system function. To help your body fight winter illness, make a good night’s rest a priority. Adults need 7 – 8 hours per night and children need 9 – 12 hours, depending on age. Try switching devices off an hour before bedtime and wind down with a hot bath or a good book.
5. Stay active
A study of 1,000 Americans found those who exercised the most through winter were less likely to develop colds – and that when they did, the colds were much less severe. Exercise boosts the amount of white blood cells and immunoglobin in your blood, which helps you fight viruses. If it’s too cold to exercise outside, try doing hot yoga or laps at an indoor swimming pool.
So there they are: our top tips for staying well this winter. We hope this list helps you and your loved ones feel your best at this bleak time of year. And if the cold, dark days are really getting you down, just think: spring is now less than a month away!