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From vitamins to staying stress-free: Tips for staying virus-free this flu season

“Do you have enough face masks?” has become a common question since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which is now known as COVID-19. Spreading rapidly, the virus is the top priority across various cities with many following the tips issued by the World Health Organization on protection and safety.

We’ve all seen listicles advocating for the wearing of masks (if you’re unwell) in crowded places, washing your hands and the use of hand sanitisers. Outside of that, however, what else can we do to stay healthy – and calm – during the flu season, especially in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak?

To save all of us from some worry, we put together this guide on best practices and top tips on how we can stay healthy during an outbreak.

Maintain regular health checks and get vaccinated!

It’s not too late to get the flu vaccine, but it’s important to get it when you’re healthy. This is especially important for the young, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

While it may not prevent coronavirus, it will help build your immunity system against the more common seasonal influenzas—which will also reduce the risk of pneumonia or other complications.

It’s also important to maintain regular check-ups—at least on an annual basis. Such regular check-ups can help identify health issues early, before they become a problem. They also give you the best chance for getting the right treatment quickly, avoiding any further complications.

Watch your diet

Did you know: the top three nutrients to ensure a strong immune system are vitamin C, zinc and iron? The benefits of vitamin C to boost immunity are well documented, and it works best as a preventive measure, rather than a reactive one—meaning that people should take it before the onset of cold or flu symptoms. Vitamin C can be easily found in its natural form, within fruit and vegetable sources such as oranges, grapefruit, kiwis, bell peppers and broccoli!

Additionally, a zinc deficiency is also associated with increased susceptibility to pneumonia and other infections in children and the elderly—but the nutrient can be easily found in poultry, breakfast cereals, beans, as well as nuts.

Breath through your nose

This might sound silly, but breathing through your nose instead of your mouth is one of the best things you can do when there is a virus going around. Air entering the body through the nose is warmed, humidified and filtered before it gets to the lungs—making a huge difference in terms of purifying the air. Even when wearing a mask (which can get hot and difficult sometimes), it’s best to continue to breathe through the nose.

Sleep well, and take time out for yourself

Ensuring that you get enough sleep is important as sleep is the body’s most effective method of recovering, which is a key tenet in keeping healthy.

A lack of sleep can affect your immune system, with studies showing that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to fall sick if they are exposed to a virus. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.

So, your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases. Long-term lack of sleep also increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease.

It’s also important to take time to do the things you love, whether it is yoga, cooking, or an art class. Stress can inhibit some of the immune functions, and taking time out for yourself is a way to reduce that stress.


“The fitter you are, the stronger your immune system.”

Regular exercise such as aerobics and walking can boost the immune system, with a study finding that “feeling fit and being active cut the risk of having a cold by nearly 50%”. In addition, those who exercise regularly also recover more quickly.

Exercise helps balance stress hormones such as cortisol (which in large amounts, is a hormone that suppresses your immune function), and changes T-cells, a type of white blood cell, to the ones that are better at fighting disease.

With the onset of the COVID-19 across various cities, it is important to remember that we all have a part to play. From showing care and support to healthcare workers at the frontline during this time, or being vigilant in ensuring our own health conditions are accounted for, we can overcome this crisis together as a nation.