WITH winter flu season upon us, staying well during the festive season can become a real challenge.
It is possible to dodge infections however - here are ten tips for fine-tuning your wellness strategy over the coming months.
1. Don't shake hands
New research from the University of Aberystwyth has shown shaking hands transmits ten to 20 times more bugs between people than a ‘fist bump’.
‘Shaking lasts longer and involves a larger surface area,’ explains Professor David Whitworth, a lecturer in biochemistry at Aberystwyth.
He also found those with the firmest grip transmitted the most bacteria.
The flu virus can survive a 40c wash, so if someone in the family is affected, wash their clothes and bedding on a hot wash or try Anti-bacterial Laundry Cleanser, which kills bugs at lower temperatures.
3. Cut down on sugar
Studies at California’s Loma Linda University found that when volunteers consumed 100g of sugar, immune cells called phagocytes consumed fewer bacteria than normal for up to five hours.
Therefore, cutting back on sugar could give your immune cells a better chance.
Blackcurrant has been shown to improve the body’s first line defences – called neutrophils – meaning your chances of picking up opportunistic infections is reduced.
Plus, 40% of our customers purchase CurraNZ specifically for its immunity benefits - and 70% have observed an improvement. The effect on immunity is one of our most common pieces of customer feedback.
5. Exercise - but only moderately
Gentle or moderate exercise can stimulate the immune system, however, research from Loughborough University found that about 90 minutes of high-intensity exercise causes the release of stress hormones and increase inflammation that can depress immunity, leaving you vulnerable to colds and flu.
6. Take vitamin D supplements
Vitamin D is absolutely crucial to immune system function. Our bodies normally synthesize considerable amounts from sun contact on our skin. So it’s no surprise that our Vitamin D levels decline in the winter and our incidence of infection increases by over a third.
Research from the University of Colorado found that low levels of vitamin D can interfere with bacteria-fighting molecules that stimulate immune cells.
If you do take a supplement, try vitamin D3, the type of vitamin D that’s most easily absorbed by your body.
7. Get eight hours' sleep
Less than seven hours’ sleep a night makes you three times more likely to catch a cold than someone who gets eight hours, research suggests.
Disturbed sleep, or lack of sleep, interferes with the workings of an immunity gene called TLR-9 say experts at Yale University in the U.S.
8. Observe the two-seat rule
According to researchers at the Australian National University in Canberra, your risk of catching flu dramatically increases if you sit within two seats in any direction of someone infected.
If you see anyone sniffing or coughing and can move seats, it might be worth doing it. If you can’t move, open windows.
Research found spending 90 minutes in a car with someone who has flu gives a 99.9 per cent chance of catching the virus. But the risk falls to 20 per cent if you open windows.
9. Ditch the sanitiser
Unless it contains 60 to 80 per cent alcohol, hand sanitiser is unlikely to be powerful enough to kill the viruses that cause colds and flu — and it won’t work at all if your hands are dirty.
Dr Lisa Ackerley, an environmental health expert from Hygiene Audit Systems, advises washing hands with soap and water when you come in from outside.
10. Warm your nose
New research is showing that one reason we catch more colds and flu more in winter is that our nose is colder which lowers its resistance to infection.
If it’s really cold, place a scarf over your nose to keep it warm.
US researchers looked at how well rhinovirus, the bug that is the biggest cause of the common cold, grew and multiplied in cells kept at different temperatures.
They showed that the germ found it easier to breed at 33C (91F) – the sort of temperature typically found inside the nose – than at the 37C (99F) found deep inside the body.