Keeping Healthy this winter – Dr Jane Benjamin

As we are in the midst of winter it’s good to know a few tips to keep ourselves as healthy as possible and prevent any winter illness.


1. General measures

There are numerous general measures you can take to avoid illness such as ensuring you are eating at least 5 portions of fruit and veg per day (high in Vitamin C and antioxidants), drink 2L of water daily, exercise regularly and be sure to get enough sleep.


2. Immunisations

Immunisations are really important, so ensure you have the flu vaccine, which not only protects you against flu but also against the dreaded swine flu, which can be very aggressive and has high level of complications even in heathy adults. All flu vaccines have the swine flu (H1N1) strain included. Children and elderly are most at risk of complications so ensure your whole family gets the vaccine. So why have the flu vaccine?


Firstly it protects against flu; it decrease severity of illness if you get it; it prevent serious complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections and in people over 50 years  of age, it decreases hospitalisation by 77%. Other important immunisations to consider if you are older than 50 years of age are the Pneumonia vaccine (Prevenar) and the Shingles vaccine. Ask your doctor about these the next time you see them.


3. Over the counter Products

There are numerous over the counter products to boost your immune system such as zinc and Vitamin C as well as brands such as Echinoforce. But always check with your doctor that these are right for you.


Numerous studies have shown the benefit of Zinc in boosting your immune system. It decreases cold/flu duration by 50%, it’s great for wound healing too and can be found naturally in red meat, whole grain cereals, poultry and berries.


Vitamin C can also boost your immune system and you should be able to get most of this from your diet. Foods high in Vitamin C include oranges, red and green pepper, strawberries, broccoli,


Foods high in Vitamin C include oranges, red and green pepper, strawberries, broccoli, brussels sprouts and potatoes. Probiotics are great for gut health and help in the treatment of viral gastroenteritis and IBS. Vitamin D deficiency has become very topical in recent years. This is very common even in healthy sun exposed adults due to the use of hats and sunscreen (which is a must to prevent skin cancer). We receive most of our Vitamin D from sunshine. Get your Vitamin D levels checked and if you are low you would benefit from a supplement.


So hopefully by taking a few simple steps to boost your immune system and protect yourself against common winter illnesses, you will avoid taking any sick days this winter!


Contact Details:

Virtus Health & Medical

Tel: +27 21 439 1555
Address: 3rd Floor, The Point, Sea Point


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