Buckle-up for flu season

There's no miracle medicine when it comes to treating the flu, but there are keys ways to protect ourselves

It’s that time of year when runny noses and sniffles start to seem like an epidemic. Yes, Britain has entered flu season. But start protecting yourself now and you could avoid the worst, according to experts.

Doctors insist that the main problem is that no one bothers ‘flu-proofing‘ themselves to reduce their chances of catching the virus.

Professor Steve Field, chair of the Royal College of GPs, says: ‘Flu has a very efficient transmission mechanism. It works a bit like an aerosol. When someone sneezes, droplets fly from the nose and the mouth.’ The virus then enters receptors in our own nose and mouth.

So avoiding a sneezer is by far the best idea. But bearing in mind that one droplet from a sneeze can travel the length of a double-decker bus, this is not always possible.

Studies show that strengthening your immune system is the next best option. Get adequate sleep, stop smoking and reduce stress levels.

Eating the right foods can also have a significant effect. ‘Poor nutrition can compromise the immune system,’ says Anna Denny, nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation.

Denny suggests eating foods containing selenium found in Brazil nuts, iron found in red meat and pulses, and zinc found in cereals and shellfish.

And don’t be fooled into thinking that an extra couple of vitamin C tablets a week will safeguard you. That is a common mistake, explains Denny. ‘Vitamin C is water soluble,’ she says, ‘so if you take large doses you will simply pee out the excess.

‘In fact,’ adds Denny, ‘there is very little evidence to suggest that taking nutritional supplements reduces the risk of infection.’

So start stocking up on that fruit and veg now, and get plenty of rest for the weeks ahead. Follow our advice and you might just be one of the lucky ones.

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