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4 Easy, Science-Backed Tips for Avoiding Winter Sickness

Say goodbye to seasonal sniffles.

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There’s nothing like a winter cold or flu to remind you that this is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. Your home should be filled with the sounds of crackling fires and carols — not with sniffles and coughs. But since you’re so busy gearing up for the holidays, it’s easy to forego self care and unintentionally make yourself more susceptible to seasonal sickness. Check out these quick and easy science-backed ways to fortify your immune system and keep winter sickness at bay so you can get back to decking your halls with boughs of holly.

Tuck into breakfast.

Savor waffles, sip a smoothie, spoon up oatmeal … whatever morning meal you prefer, the nutrients and calories provided by breakfast armor the immune system against respiratory infections from the day’s start. So say authors of a British study, who found sick days due to colds and flu were lower among folks who ate breakfast daily than those who rarely enjoyed a morning meal. Need some morning meal inspiration? Check out this recipe for protein-packed vanilla Belgian waffles: A hearty and delicious meal that will bolster your immune system.

Protein-Packed Vanilla Belgian Waffles

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. In bowl, whisk first 5 ingredients until combined; gently fold in flour, 1 cup at a time, until batter forms
  2. Heat waffle maker according to manufacturer’s directions; coat with cooking spray. In batches, cook batter according to manufacturer’s directions

Spritz with saline.

Flushing nasal passages with saline cuts the number of colds you get, Swedish findings suggest. It thins mucus so it’s easier to clear, whisking away sick-causing germs with it. And as immunologist Nancy Klimas, MD, notes, the strategy could also protect against COVID. The virus attaches to cells to replicate, and one of the first places it does so is in the nose. “Rinsing the area where viruses try to attach works like hand washing for nasal tissues,” she says. Her advice: Use a saline nasal spray four times daily, especially after being in public.

Sip green tea.

Drinking three to four cups of the brew each day slashes the risk of viral infections, according to a study in Molecules. Plus, Japanese research suggests upping your intake of green tea can lower COVID risk. The brew’s EGCG halts viruses’ ability to attach to cells. Tip: Add a squeeze of lemon juice. A Purdue University study found acids and vitamin C in the juice blunt the breakdown of EGCG, boosting the amount that’s available to the body.

Take fast-acting D.

Vitamin D activates genes that help white blood cells attack viral invaders. That’s why Boston University scientists say you’re 54 percent less likely to get COVID and other respiratory infections if you keep your levels of D topped up. For a quick way to do so, try calcifediol. In a Spanish study, this form of the nutrient lifted D levels three times faster than other forms. Try d.velop Vitamin D (Buy from Amazon, $18 for 60 count).

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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