Adults usually get around two to four colds a year, however Brits have been particularly struck down with illness this winter. After two years of barely being exposed to any of the usual germs, they are now playing havoc with our immune systems.
New research from Stérimar, the UK’s No.1 GP recommended non-medicated nasal spray brand, has revealed that seven in 10 Brits were unaware of the importance of maintaining good nasal hygiene, which is one of the best ways to help prevent a cold. In fact, over a fifth said they did not know what nasal hygiene was; a third thought it was blowing their nose and one in 10 thought it meant picking their nose.
NHS GP and TV Medic Dr Zoe Williams has teamed up with Stérimar to share her top tips on how to support your immunity and keep healthy this winter.
Get enough sleep
It is extremely important to get enough sleep (seven or more hours a night), especially if you have been exposed to germs or a virus. When you don’t get enough sleep, your immune cells decline, increasing susceptibility to sickness. To improve your sleep, try sleeping in a completely dark room, using a sleep mask, or going to bed at the same time every night. Reducing screen time before bed can also help, as the blue light emitted from screens can disrupt your circadian rhythm.
Eat the rainbow!
The benefits of a healthy diet are far reaching and include supporting your immune system. Eating fruits and vegetables with a variety of colours ensures the body is nourished with essential nutrients. Leafy green vegetables, such as kale and spinach, are excellent sources of vitamins, which have been shown to play an important role in regulating immunity. Getting enough Vitamin D from fruits like oranges or taking a supplement, can also help keep colds at bay.
Practice good nasal hygiene
It’s all well and good trying to support your immune system to help fight against infection, but it is equally important, if not more to stop germs entering your body in the first place. The nose is one of the first lines of defence of our immune system and good nasal hygiene can help to keep your sinuses clear, making you less vulnerable to infections and viruses.
Using a saline water-based product such as Stérimar Breathe Easy will can help to naturally clear and cleanse the nose, eliminating impurities and helping to prevent colds.
If you’re already suffering, Stérimar Congestion Relief can rapidly decongest the nose by washing out nasal cavities.
Try and keep your exercise levels up
Although exercising might be the last thing you want to do, especially when you feel a cold coming; simply going for 30–45-minute walk can help support your immune system. Exercise mobilises immune cells to help the body fight any germs, making you feel better.
Wash your hands more regularly
This one seems obvious but washing your hands before performing any activity that brings your hands in contact with the eyes or mouth is one of the most important steps to avoid catching a cold. Make sure you wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds to help stop transmission of infection. You could also try cutting your fingernails, as they can become a breeding ground for germs. Be sure to also dry hands after washing; wet hands can help bacteria spread!
Although it is often easier said than done, but reducing stress is important. Daily stress can overwork your immune system, draining your ability to stay healthy and this imbalance makes you more susceptible to viruses, including the common cold. You could try meditation, exercise or journaling, or anything which helps to relax you.
Drinking your daily recommended amount of water (around 6-8 glasses a day) can help fight off illnesses through multiple ways. Staying hydrated helps keep the mucus membranes of your nasal passages moist so they can catch viral invaders before entering your body. Drinking water also adds oxygen to your blood—which helps ensure all your body’s systems have enough oxygen to function at their best level to remove toxins and speed up recovery.
For more information, visit www.sterimarnasal.co.uk.