The colder weather and change of season means colds and flus start to become common place. Luckily there are some really easy tips that anyone can put into place that will help reduce the frequency and severity of colds and flus suffered this winter. TIP 1 – Reduce your Stress Levels Stress reduces our immune function! Don’t believe me? Studies have proven that happier people have a healthier immune system and are less likely to develop a cold and flu even when exposed to them. So what ever you do to release stress, whether it is exercise, meditation, gardening, or sleeping make sure you balance your stress levels this winter. Tip 2 – Stay Warm Your mother wasn’t lying to you when you were a child, staying warm does reduce the chances of catching a cold. According to Chinese medicine a cold or flu enters via the back of the neck so if you are out in the cold make sure you wear a scarf of a top that keeps the back of your neck warm. Tip 3 – Eat a Healthy Diet Anti oxidants found in fresh fruits and vegetables keep your immune system in tip top shape. Eating a diet that has plenty of these foods will help not only boost your immune system but will slow the ageing process, helping you feel younger for longer. Tip 4 – Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption Drinking too much alcohol suppresses your immune system. How many times have you noticed waking up with not only a hang over but the beginnings of a cold or flu? Make sure you have 4 alcohol free days a week and when you do drink, make sure it is in moderation. Tip 5 – Get Plenty of Sunshine We all know that sunshine makes us feel good, but did you know that Vitamin D found in sunshine helps boost your immune system. Make sure even in winter that you get 15 – 30 minutes of direct sunlight per day on as much of your body as you can stand without getting frost bite! Tip 6 – Add garlic to meals Garlic is a fantastic way to increase your bodies own immune system. Garlic is also anti-bacterial and acts as a pre-biotic in the gut, which means it is a food for your good gut flora like acidophilus and bifidus. Eating 2 -4 cloves a day is considered a good cold and flu preventative dose. Just make sure your loved ones join you! Tip 7 – Make sure your Zinc levels are adequate Zinc plays an important role in maintaining healthy immune function. Human studies have observed even a mild zinc deficiency can decrease the effectiveness of the immune response. Zinc supplementation is considered to be an effective means of reducing the duration of the common cold. A therapeutic dose of 15mg 1 – 2 times a day at the onset of a cold or flu has shown to reduce the severity and duration of colds and flus.