Staying well - beating the germs

With winter fast approaching the season of colds, flu and other nasties will soon be upon us. However, by sticking to a few simple rules it is possible to avoid the viruses and bugs associated with cold weather, so follow these tips to stay healthy this winter.

Beat the germs this winter

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Get vitamins with veg
When it's cold and dark outside it's all too tempting to hole up indoors with some comfort food. But winter is when we need our five a day more than ever. Make sure you keep your plate colourful with a wide range of veggies, and swap your sugary snacks for fruit to ensure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need from these goodness-packed wonders. A good helping of dairy is also a must as it is a great source of protein, vitamins A and B12 and calcium. Opt for semi-skimmed or low-fat to ensure you aren't loading up too much on unsaturated fat.

Get some exercise
Most of us would rather snuggle into the sofa on a dark, rainy night, but exercise gives your immune system an all-important boost during the winter months, helping you to fight off any bugs that might come your way. If you can't face layering up and heading out after work, try a good brisk walk at lunchtime, and get the whole family out for a little activity at the weekends. Not only will it help to keep your body healthy, it's also a great stress-buster and a daily dose of vitamin D from the sun will help reduce your risk of infection.

Get some sleep
You may well joke about hibernating in wintertime but getting more sleep is most definitely a good thing as it is helps to strengthen the immune system. Most of us are averaging just six-and-a-half hours per night, less than the Sleep Council's recommended seven to nine hours. And if you need any more persuasion, research by experts at New York University revealed that it's only after the seventh hour of sleep that our immune system reaps the benefits.

Protect yourself
You don't have to become compulsive obsessive to protect yourself against germs, but washing your hands is essential for killing bugs and stopping the spread of viruses and bacteria. Make sure you wash and dry your hands properly and regularly, use and bin tissues if you do blow your nose and keep surfaces at home germ-free with an anti-bacterial cleaner.

Hand sanitiser is also a good idea. ATM machines, escalator handrails and door handles are unavoidable for most but are known to spread germs from person to person. Thankfully hand sanitisers come in pocket or handbag-sized bottles these days so it's easy to kill any bugs you do pick up before they can do their worst.

Stay hydrated
If you do succumb to a winter virus, it's important to keep hydrated. A dehydrated body finds it harder to get rid of those cold weather nasties, so taking fluids on is one of the best ways to beat the bugs. Fruit juices and herbal teas, with an added slice of lemon for vitamin C, will give your body the best chance of getting back on track.