Try to keep you and your family protected from colds and other seasonal illnesses with our guide to staying fit and healthy through the frosty winter months.
Together with short days, chilly winds, and lots of snow, winter brings with it all manner of nasty illnesses determined to put you and your children out of action. You might think that colds and flu are an inevitable part of this time of year, but here are several easy ways you can help protect your family from winter bugs over the coming months.
Dress for the Weather
Keeping warm is essential, but between wriggling toddlers who take hours to dress, and teenagers who think coats are for losers, getting your kids correctly attired can be tricky. If your body is spending too much energy staying warm, it won’t have the strength it needs to fight off germs when they attack.
Turning the thermostat up and staying indoors by the fire is tempting, but being active outdoors is another good way to keep healthy during winter. From a fitness perspective, exercising in the cold strengthens your circulatory system, heart, and lungs, as well as burning more calories than in warmer temperatures. Daylight is a natural mood-booster, helping to combat those winter blahs and make you happier. The healthier your body, the better you can resist viruses and bacteria, and the faster you will recover if you do fall ill.
Foods to Boost Immunity
Watching what your family eats is another fantastic way to keep their immune systems – the body’s natural defence from illness – working at optimum levels. Generally speaking, the brighter the vegetable, the better it is for you. Butternut squash, peppers, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, beetroot, spinach, broccoli, oranges, kiwi-fruit and berries should all be on your shopping list in fresh or frozen forms. They’re packed with vitamins and anti-oxidants which are your ammunition in the war on bugs.
Zinc is even more effective than vitamin C, so make sure you and your family get enough by eating lean red meat and seafood. Probiotic yoghurt and yoghurt drinks are another excellent source of zinc.
Drink plenty of water – not only does it stop you from getting thirsty, it improves your digestion, helping all those lovely nutrients get to where they need to be, and assisting your body to flush out any toxins.
As well as offering it to the elderly, pregnant women, and healthcare workers, NHS Scotland provides flu immunisation to children aged two to five years through their GP, and to all primary school aged children. Other tips that will help keep your family healthy this winter include washing their hands and using anti-bacterial hand gel regularly, especially after blowing their nose. If someone does come down with a cold or sore throat, replace their toothbrush to avoid re-infection. It may not be possible to avoid the 200 viruses known to cause the common cold, but these tips will give you a fighting chance.