It might be tempting to rest on your laurels when it comes to the flu. With a nationwide lockdown in place for much of the past year, winter 2020/21 saw a surprising drop in the number of flu cases across the country, and indeed the world.
However, with things opening up and people spending more time socialising with others, there is a real chance of a surge in flu cases this coming winter. In fact, some experts are concerned that this year may be worse than ever, as our immune systems lack recent exposure to the virus.
Nobody wants to start thinking about the winter months just yet. However, when it comes to protecting yourself from viruses like flu, it’s important to make changes early.
Here at The Mayfair GP, we have a firm belief in lifestyle medicine. Here are some lifestyle medicine tips that will have a direct, positive impact on your health, and will help you to avoid flu.
Boost your immune system
So what can you do to help improve your chances of fighting off the flu this year? Well the good news is that if you start now, there are lots of small changes you can make that will help to boost your immune system, and keep you fighting fit.
We all know that eating well plays a vital role in keeping us fit and well, but did you know it can also help to keep your immune system in shape? Here are our top tips for foods to eat to fight off flu:
Citrus fruits – most people know that eating citrus fruits like oranges and lemons helps to top up our vitamin C levels. However, what you might not realise is that because our body cannot produce or store vitamin C, you need to be eating these fruits on a daily basis to see an effect. So if you can eat an orange a day between now and the start of the flu season, you should be A-OK. Other vitamin C-containing foods include red bell peppers, broccoli and spinach
Garlic – as well as making savoury dishes taste divine, garlic is also great for your immune system. Experts think its infection-fighting value comes from having a lot of sulphate-containing compounds, like allicin
Almonds – almonds contain a high level of vitamin E, which is great at keeping your immune system in good working order. Unfortunately vitamin E is fat soluble, which means it needs to be eaten with fat in order for your body to absorb it properly. Almonds are a particularly good way of getting vitamin E into your diet, as they also contain lots of healthy fats
Other lifestyle medicine tips
Whilst eating a diet rich in the foods above will go a long way towards improving your immune system, there are some other things you can do to help things along:
- Stop smoking – smoking lowers your immunity, increasing your risk of contracting viruses like flu (and being sicker with them when you do)
- Drink less alcohol – reducing your alcohol consumption will improve your overall health and leave your body stronger to fend off illness
- Get more sleep – if you can try to get a full seven to eight hours’ sleep most nights, this will help you to avoid illness. Studies have shown that people who are sleep deprived are more susceptible to viruses
For more information about Lifestyle Medicine, or to book an appointment to discuss how it can work for you, please contact us.