How to protect your immune system this winter

According to The Independent, cold and flu cases are expected to rise sharply this winter. While lockdown last year meant most of us were largely free from the common cold as we kept inside, it also means that this winter’s virus pool is likely to be larger.

But there are a few things you can do to make sure your immune system is in tip-top shape for flu season.

  1. Up those Vitamin D levels

According to a 2017 study of more than 10,000 patients, people with low vitamin D levels are more likely to develop upper respiratory tract infections than those with sufficient levels.

Dr Ross Watton says it’s especially important during winter months – when there’s lower levels of light available – to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D, e.g. through a supplement.

  1. Stay at home if you’re sick

Though it might be tempting to go into work when you’re feeling unwell, you won’t be doing your teammates any favours if you do.

In winter in particular, when these viruses begin to circulate and people tend to stay indoors, it’s important you stay home if you’re feeling sick, so you don’t run the chance of passing the bug onto anyone else.

Dr Elly Gaunt, Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, stresses that the symptoms of the common cold and other winter viruses may be ”indistinguishable” from Covid-19 – which is why we’d recommend you stay home if you feel sick.

  1. Exercise regularly

There is evidence that exercise helps to boost your immune system, allowing it to better defend the body against viruses.

You don’t need to be pumping out an intense one-hour workout seven days a week – even gentle exercises can improve the functionality of your immune system.

  1. Don’t touch your mouth, eyes, or nose

According to Chairman of Family Medicine at the University of Miami School of Medicine, Robert Schwartz, viruses mainly get into your system via the ”oral and respiratory nasal route”. It’s therefore important you try to limit touching your face as much as possible.

Make sure you’re also regularly sanitising your mobile phone, as they’re often brimming with germs.