Immune system key to combating colds

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Published: Sunday 19th October 2014 by The News Editor

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It seems like five minutes since we packed the summer beach towels away, now suddenly everywhere people are sniffling, spluttering or complaining of feeling groggy and achy.

Colds, and the more severe flu, are a common part of winter and most of us fall prey at some point or other, but taking action now could help keep these bugs at bay. And at the centre of this strategy is the immune system.

“The immune system’s made of specialised cells and tissues that protect the body from invaders like bacteria and viruses, parasites and fungal infections,” explains Mel Wakeman, senior lecturer in applied physiology at Birmingham City University.

These bacteria and viruses exist all year round, and – despite the common myth – staying out of the cold and wet doesn’t help us avoid them. But there are some steps you can take.

Winter fuel

The better nourished you are, the less sick you will become. Balance is key, even for people who eat lots of fruit and veg. So include wholegrain foods – such as brown rice and wholegrain pasta – as well as oily fish to ensure a good range of nutrients.

Move it, move it

Your immune system will be the first to thank you if you make the effort to brave the worst the winter’s dark, wet and cold conditions can throw at you to get fit.

Some experts say winter exercise helps to flush bugs from the lungs. It also gets your blood pumping and gets white blood cells circulating more effectively.

Get a flu jab

Children up to the age of four are being offered free vaccines in the form of a nasal spray. No one says these will give total protection, but they should provide substantial safeguards.

GP Dr Sarah Brewer is urging everybody to to see if they qualify for a free vaccination.

 

Published: Sunday 19th October 2014 by The News Editor

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