Staying healthy this winter
Halloween is over, the clocks have gone back, the evenings are getting darker and the mornings colder – sure signs that winter is coming! While it’s only a matter of days before we start to see Christmas lights everywhere, unfortunately, it’s also the season for winter colds and sniffles.
The most effective prevention against winter flu is to get the flu vaccine, as unfortunately there’s no cure for the cold virus. However, you can help protect yourself from catching a cold by following a healthy lifestyle:
Well balanced diet
Eat a varied and balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables to ensure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals. Be creative, try adding fruit to warm porridge, stewing some fruit (use sweetener rather than sugar to avoid ‘added sugars’) to have with yogurt as a snack or dessert, make soups and warming stews, have roasted vegetables as meal accompaniments and make roasted vegetable salads as lunch options.
Taking zinc lozenges, within 24hours of the symptoms starting, and throughout, may help to shorten the duration of a cold, though the actual benefit of this varies among studies. On average, colds are resolved one day sooner, but there’s no agreed recommended dosage. Note- you should not take zinc lozenges on a long term basis due to potential side effects such as nausea and a bad taste in the mouth. Good dietary sources of zinc include oysters, fish, beef, pumpkin seeds and baked beans.
Evidence has suggested that a daily consumption of 200mg of Vitamin C can reduce the incidence of developing a cold in athletes or those under considerable physical stress. However dosing up with Vitamin C once a cold has started has the same effect as a placebo! Good sources of Vitamin C in your diet include oranges, kiwi, strawberries, peppers and broccoli.
Many people believe that Echinacea helps prevent colds, however the research does not support this and the benefits are most likely due to a ‘placebo-effect’, so there is little need to spend your hard-earned money on these supplements, with negligible benefits.