Strengthening immunity: how to prevent cold and flu in winter

Strengthening immunity: how to prevent cold and flu in winter

02 Mar 2022

Winter is coming, and so do the chills and flu.

Winter may be quite challenging for people who are more susceptible to colds and flu. While the two respiratory conditions share symptoms, like fever, cough, chills, sore throat, sneezing, stuffy nose, and tiredness (1), the flu is deemed more serious than the common cold.

The influenza virus, which causes the flu, tends to spread during the cold season, in April to October (5). It typically peaks in August. While most cases tend to resolve within a few days, it’s wise to take preventive actions. If you want to answer the question, “how to prevent cold and flu in winter?”, consider the following tips:

Practice good personal hygiene

The influenza virus tends to travel through the air in droplets. When an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, you can inhale the droplets or pick up the germs from an object contaminated by droplets.

One answer to the question, how to prevent cold and flu in winter, is to practice good personal hygiene (3). Wash your hands frequently and refrain from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Washing your hands routine must be thorough. Follow this quick 4 step process to ensure you’ve cleaned up well. Wet your hands, use soap and rub the soap all over your hands. This exercise should include scrubbing the top of your hands, between your fingers and definitely, under the nails. Don't forget to completely rinse your hands with water, and dry them afterwards on a clean towel. This entire process takes twenty to thirty seconds (6) and is not to be missed.

How to prevent cold and flu in winter

Avoid transmitting the virus to others

Because the flu spreads easily through droplets containing the virus, it is also important to safeguard those around us (5). If you have the flu, avoid sharing cutlery, plates, towels, and other personal belongings. It also helps to regularly clean surfaces that other people may come in contact with, such as keyboards, phones, and door knobs.

Part of avoiding transmission is covering your mouth and nose with a tissue whenever you cough or sneeze.

On the other hand, avoid close contact with people with visible flu symptoms.

Keep healthy

It also helps to practice good health habits, like eating a balanced diet, drinking enough fluids, getting adequate sleep, and staying active. These actions help build a healthier immune system.

Consider supplements

In addition to practising positive health habits, you might also want to consider supplements to strengthen your all-round health and well-being during the winter season. If you’re wondering how to prevent cold and flu in winter, here are some supplements to consider:  

Zinc

Zinc is an essential trace mineral that supports the immune system and helps defend against invading bacteria and viruses (4). Studies show that zinc intake is linked to a significant reduction of common cold symptoms (7).

Iron

While it is commonly associated with red blood cell production, iron also supports cells in the immune system. Studies suggest a link between iron deficiency and impaired T-lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that plays an important role in proper immune system function (8).

*Iron should only be taken if prescribed by your doctor.

Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is a naturally-occurring carotenoid eaten by marine organisms. It is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substance that supports overall immune system function (12).

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb in traditional Indian medicine known for its rejuvenation properties. Since prolonged stress can impair the immune system, the herb increases a person’s resistance to fatigue and supports healthy sleep, helping the body and mind recover more quickly from stressful situations, such as winter flu symptoms (13).  

Probiotics SB

Studies suggest that some probiotic strains are capable of supporting the immune system and exerting certain properties that contribute to a healthy immune response (14). Vitable’s Probiotic SB combines three strains of gut-friendly bacteria to restore good bacteria and ease digestive symptoms.

B complex

Like ashwagandha, vitamin B supplements play an important role in stress management. Vitamin B5 works with other B vitamins to enhance the body’s stress response and restores depleted nutrient levels (15).

Vitamin C

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is one of the most popular vitamins to boost your immune system. It stimulates the production of white blood cells and supports the cellular function of the innate and adaptive immune systems (16).

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that supports the immune system’s response against bacterial and viral agents. Studies suggest that a vitamin D deficiency can compromise the integrity of the immune system and possibly cause unwanted immune responses (9).  

Daily probiotics

Vitable’s Daily Probiotics contains Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus. All of these support the healthy functioning of the digestive system.

Vitamin B12

Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in energy production. At Vitable, our single-dose vitamin B12 supports energy production, nervous system health, and brain function.

Fish oil

Fish oil contains omega-3, a powerful polyunsaturated fat, that can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. It lowers triglycerides, increases good cholesterol, and improves blood pressure (10).

Biotin

Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin known for metabolism of fatty acids but can also support the immune system. Studies show that biotin deficiency may be linked to lower functions of certain immune cells and an enhanced inflammatory response (11).

If you’re looking into vitamin and mineral supplements to boost your resilience against flu and cold this winter, consider Vitable Australia. We offer a monthly vitamin subscription where you can create custom vitamins for your health needs and goals. We even have vitamin delivery services covered, so you can receive your vitamin packs in Australia conveniently!

*Always read the label and follow directions for use. If you experience any symptoms or if symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.

References:

  1. Mayo Clinic. Influenza (flu). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flu/symptoms-causes/syc-20351719
  2. National Institute of Aging. Flu and Older Adults. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/flu-and-older-adults
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy Habits to Help Prevent Flu. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/actions-prevent-flu.htm
  4. National Institutes of Health - Office of Dietary Supplements. Zinc.  https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-Consumer/
  5. HealthDirect. Flu Trends in Austrlia. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/flu-trends-in-australia
  6. ACT Government. Winter wellbeing and flu. https://www.health.act.gov.au/about-our-health-system/population-health/winter-wellbeing-and-flu
  7. Vitable. Zinc. https://research.vitable.com.au/zinc
  8. Vitable. Iron. https://research.vitable.com.au/iron
  9. Vitable. Vitamin D. https://research.vitable.com.au/vitamin-d
  10. Vitable. Fish Oil. https://www.vitable.com.au/blog/important-benefits-of-omega-3-fish-oil-supplements
  11. Biotin. https://research.vitable.com.au/biotin
  12. Astaxanthin: The key to a new you. https://www.clinicaleducation.org/resources/reviews/astaxanthin-the-key-to-a-new-you/
  13. What is Ashwagandha. Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-is-ashwagandha/
  14. Probiotics. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14598-probiotics
  15. Vitamin B-complex. PeaceHealth. https://www.peacehealth.org/medical-topics/id/hn-2922005
  16. Vitamin C. National Institutes of Health. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/