How to help fight the flu

Tips to help you stay healthy all year round

The flu: once you catch it, it can really knock you off your feet. With many of us living busy lives, we just don’t have the time to feel unwell. While there’s no definite way to avoid a cold or flu, there are some things you can do to help reduce your chances of getting ill. To help you stay healthy all year round, we asked our experts for their advice on how to help protect against flu, including tips on hygiene and relaxation.

The pharmacist

Tom Kallis, Boots pharmacist says:

"The best thing you can do? Get the flu vaccination. While no vaccination is 100 percent effective, it will help to prepare your body’s defences if you come into contact with the flu virus. As the virus mutates to give rise to new strains, you’ll need to get the jab every year. Apart from getting the jab, remember: wash your hands regularly, especially before eating. It really will help you avoid picking up the virus."

The food guru

Vicky Pennington, Boots nutritionist says:

"Try to eat healthily – at least five portions of fruit and veg, plus low-fat dairy, lean protein and wholegrain carbs, every day – and try to grab a portion of oily fish a week, too. Pay extra attention to vitamin C, which helps support the immune system function. It’s not just found in citrus fruit, green veg such as broccoli and cabbage, and fruit such as strawberries and kiwi fruit are other good sources. Make sure zinc is on your radar too, as this can also support the normal function of the immune system. It’s found in lean meat like chicken, as well as yohgurt, baked beans and chickpeas."

The meditation expert

Smita Joshi, yoga teach, life coach and author says:

"It’s not a coincidence that when you’re run down, you get ill – everyday stress can have an impact on your immunity. So why not try meditation? One study found that people who practised mindfulness meditation increased their antibodies in response to the flu vaccination, which is good news for your immune system. It’s easy to fit into your day, too. Just find a spot at home where you feel relaxed. Ideally, you should sit with your back straight, but lying on your bed will do. Then breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth, focusing on the in and out. If your mind wanders, just bring it back to your breath. Try this for a minute or two to begin with, then increase gradually."