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Boosting your Immunity for Winter

With winter being the season when we are most prone to being exposed to seasonal viruses and affected by respiratory conditions like asthma, it’s important to have a healthy immune system.  

Your immune system is designed to defend you against the viruses that cause colds and the flu. When it’s healthy and strong, it does a great job of fighting off colds and infections and keeping you well. However, if your immune system is weak, it will struggle to defend you successfully against any bugs you may get exposed to, which will increase your chances of becoming unwell. So, it’s really important to do everything you can to keep your immune system strong.

Here are some top tips to help you do that from the New Zealand health information website, Healthify:

  

1. Wash your hands regularly. Washing your hands for 20 seconds and then drying them for 20 seconds is a proven way to stay healthy and reduce the spread of viruses.  


2. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. This will provide you with the nutrients you need to help keep the germs away. Aim for at least five plus a day in a variety of colours. Eat what’s in season and use a mix of fresh and frozen vegetables to help keep within your budget.  


3. Do your best to quit smoking. Smoking weakens your immune system and harms your lungs and heart. It also negatively impacts the health of friends and whānau who breathe in second-hand smoke. 


4. Limit alcohol. Drinking too much can weaken your immunity and also mess up your sleep (which also weakens your immunity). Reducing your alcohol intake or quit all together will help keep you healthier over winter, and provide you with more funds to buy fruit and vegetables. 


5. Keep away from sick people. This may seem obvious, but it’s not always easy to do. If people around you are unwell, wear a mask and keep your distance. And, if you become unwell, keep away from other people to avoid spreading your germs to them. 


6. Exercise. Regular exercise boosts your immune system and also makes you feel good. Aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week. Try to sit less and be more active.  


7. Get enough sleep Getting enough quality sleep is essential for your wellbeing and protects your physical and mental health. It’s recommended that adults get between 7–9 hours of sleep every night. If you have trouble falling asleep, put in place a sleep routine where you relax and avoid scrolling through your phone before you go to bed. Falling asleep 15–20 minutes after going to bed is a sign that your body’s in a good sleep routine. If you don’t have a good sleep routine, you can get some tips how to develop one here: Sleep Routine 


8. Follow public health advice. Listen to the Ministry of Health or government about what health advice to follow. If you have any concerns or questions, you can talk to your GP. 


9. Minimise stress. Too much stress weakens your immune system and is bad for your health. Do all you can to keep your stress levels in check, and make time each day to relax. 


10. Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date. Being vaccinated makes sure your body is ready to jump into action when you come into contact with whatever it is you’ve been immunised against. Also, if you spend time around young babies, make sure your whooping cough vaccination is up-to-date. Unvaccinated babies have no immunity to this nasty contagious disease, which is starting to spread again. If you haven’t had a whooping cough vaccination within the last 10 years please book in for a booster. It’s free for expectant mums and some older adults. 


If you have any questions or concerns about how to keep stay healthy over winter, the Little London Medical team will be happy to help. Please call our clinic on 07 839 5004 or book an appointment with your GP. 

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