Health Promotion Specialist November 12, 2017 Things that lurk at work – staying well over winter With winter comes a whole array of yucky bugs, colds and flu. And having a long-term illness such as a chest, heart or stroke condition puts you at greater risk of flu-related complications. A busy workplace environment can be the perfect breeding ground for bugs with colleagues coughing, sniffing and sneezing all winter long. Try to stay well this winter and avoid ‘things that lurk at work’: Get the flu jab – the best defence against the flu is to get vaccinated. If you are over 65 or have a long-term health condition, speak to your GP as soon as possible about having the flu jab. Regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water, especially after coughing, blowing your nose, using the bathroom and before eating food. Good desk hygiene – minimise the spread of germs by regularly cleaning work surfaces with disinfecting wipes (make sure they kill bacteria and viruses) – pay special attention to your keyboard, computer mouse and phones (which can harbour 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat)! Eating well – boost your immunity by eating a balanced diet with three meals per day and plenty of antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables (choose a variety of colours). Try some wholesome warming foods such as porridge, stewed fruit or a bowl of lentil soup. Stress can reduce your body’s ability to stay well – take some time out for yourself each day – go for a walk, read a book, or practice being mindful. Vitamins – a healthy balanced diet should provide most people with all of the vitamins and minerals they need. A common belief is that Vitamin C helps to prevent colds and flus, but there is no evidence to support this. It may however, reduce the duration of a cold by about half a day. Vitamin D is also really important over the winter months due to a lack of sunlight – find out if you need to take vitamin D during winter. Stay active – boost your mood and your immunity by moving more. There are plenty of ways of keeping active in winter including indoor activities like swimming, ten-pin bowling or yoga. A good night’s sleep is crucial for maintaining good health and lack of sleep can increase your chance of catching a cold. Find out how to sleep like a baby tonight. Improve gut health – a healthy gut can improve your overall health and wellbeing. Boost the good bacteria in your gut by including extra fibre (wholegrains, pulses, fruit and vegetables), prebiotics (such as onions, garlic, asparagus and bananas) and probiotics (fermented foods like yoghurt (with live cultures) or fermented drinks). Note: probiotics contain live bacteria which is safe for most people – if you have a compromised immune system, seek advice from your GP first. And lastly, if you do become unwell with the lurgy, it’s best to stay at home until you’re well again. As much as your work mates love you, they’d prefer if you kept your bugs to yourself!