To help us recuperate when cold and flu season strikes, many of us seek the creature comforts of homemade chicken soup and cuddles on the couch with little ones. However, there are also some practical ways to help minimise the impact of cold and flu season from the outset. Cenovis spokesperson and nutritionist, Kate Freeman shares her top three tips to keep family members fighting fit during the cooler months:
1. Sleep: wake up on the bright side
A lack of quality sleep may weaken the immune system and make you more susceptible to cold/illness, increasing daytime drowsiness and making it more difficult to concentrate. There are also the obvious signs of tiredness and irritability which tend to have a ripple effect on the family.
Kate advises that young kids under six years of age need between 10-12 hours of sleep each day, while older children should get an average of 10 hours. It’s important not to forget mum and dad too, with eight hours of shut eye recommended for adults for optimum health and wellbeing.
Kate’s top tip: Implement screen-free time before bed – the light from TVs, smart phones, computers and laptops can inhibit the release of sleep hormone, melatonin, making it more difficult to drift off.
2. Exercise: consistency over intensity
Exercising regularly increases the amount of white blood cells in your blood stream which in turn supports your immunity. But did you know that excessive levels of exercise (such as running a marathon) might increase your risk of catching a cold or flu?
Kate’s advice is to aim for consistency over high intensity. Don’t push yourself too hard. Moderate, regular exercise will provide more benefits to your immune system.
Kate’s top tip: There are plenty of fantastic ways to inspire the whole family to stay active together. Rug up and take an early evening family walk, or join the kids and jump around at an indoor trampoline centre on the weekend. Bushwalking in the middle of the day during the cooler months is often more enjoyable – and you’ll also get an added healthy boost of Vitamin D from the sunshine!
3. Food: aim to serve up colourful plates of nutritious food
You may have heard that it’s important to up the intake of Omega 3 fatty acids to help reduce joint inflammation, but did you know that a healthy dose of good bacteria, Vitamin C, Zinc, , flavonoids and antioxidants are also important to keep the immune system healthy?
Keep your gut healthy with lots of good bacteria found in high fibre foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Kate’s top tip: Get creative in the kitchen and pre-chop a range of fruits and vegetables for the family to munch on during the day. Serve up a fruit salad, get the kids to make their own fruit kebabs or whip up a smoothie packed with fruits (or veggies such as spinach, cucumber, celery or beetroot).