Tips to boost your immune system for healthier winter season

BERLIN (DPA) : As the weather gets colder and you worry about getting coughs and colds, you might be buying cough drops and tissues.

But there are simple things you can do to try and stay healthy, although it’s not always possible to avoid all sickness. These three tips will help you stay strong during the cold season.

Boost your immune system

Start by drinking plenty of fluids to keep your mucous membranes in the nasopharynx moist. This makes it harder for pathogens to survive, says sports scientist Ingo Froböse at the German Sport University Cologne.

Drink around 30 milliliters of fluid per kilogram of body weight per day, preferably water and unsweetened teas. So if you weigh 70 kilograms, you should drink at least 2.1 liters a day.

What also helps your immune system is a balanced diet with plenty of variety. Get a good supply of the micronutrients iron and zinc during the cold season, says Froböse. Your body needs them so your T-cells – the cells that detect viruses in our body – can work properly. For example, you find iron and zinc in oats, lentils, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

Exercise also helps strengthen your body’s defenses, so try and take regular walks out in the fresh air.

Prevent infection

When someone sneezes or coughs, that spreads pathogens via saliva and nasal secretions, says Germany’s Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA). They may reach your hands and then your mucous membranes if you touch your face, thereby spreading infection.

You can cut the risk of infection if you wash your hands thoroughly several times a day, taking 20 to 30 seconds. Washing your hands is a must when you come home from being out and about, before you eat, after using the toilet, blowing your nose, or being in contact with people who are ill.

By all means, wear a face mask in public settings, but know that clinical research has not proven beyond doubt that masking can help prevent influenza infections. It is nonetheless a good idea to mask up if you are feeling symptoms of an infection.

Check-in on your medicine cabinet

Do you have lozenges to hand for when you start to get a scratchy throat? Now is a good time to check the expiry date on what you have in your medicine cabinet and dispose of any meds that have expired.

Bear in mind with cough syrups that once you open them, that may reduce their shelf life, so note them down on the packaging when you open it.

If you want to stock up on nasal sprays or drops, you shouldn’t be tempted by fancy-sounding additives.

Germany’s Stiftung Warentest consumer advisers say ingredients such as dexpanthenol, aloe vera, camomile flower extract, and essential oils are unnecessary, as there is not sufficient proof that they can provide additional help for your nose.

Solutions that only contain water and salt are completely sufficient to help counter nasal congestion.