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Bin the bugs

Most people know winter has arrived when the temperature dips and they start planning Christmas in July. Me, I know because I sneeze, the kids cough and tissues pile up like discarded snowballs…

It never used to be like this. Before kids, I rarely had a sniffle. Since kids I’ve never quite worked out if I have one long cold that lasts from April to September, or a series of colds that merge into one.

Our family lives in fear throughout winter, eyeing each other suspiciously across the lounge room in case one of us is host to a nasty virus in its early stages.

And I’m not alone. Many medical experts agree that adults with children suffer more days of sickness than non-parents. And that’s because, children are only good at sharing one thing – germs!

Children are magnets for germs because they spend a lot of time in close contact and have less than ideal hygiene habits. And although kids do seem to catch a lot of colds, they rarely suffer for long. Last winter my then one-year-old, Leo, had a sniffle for a day while my husband, Alec, and I endured fatigue and aches for two weeks!

According to NSW President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Brian Morton, it’s normal for parents to suffer around three colds a year. If you are suffering any more than this, you may need to see your GP for a check-up.

Protect against bugs

One of the best ways is to simply wash our hands – whenever we go to the toilet and before we eat or prepare food. ‘Make sure the kids follow good cough and cold etiquette,’ adds Dr Morton. ‘Throw tissues out and don’t cough over people.’

And you may want to consider getting immunised for Swine flu, which is expected to be the dominant flu strain this winter.

Immune boosters

Boost the super-immune foods in your diet, such as foods rich in Vitamins A, C, E  (berries, carrots, oranges, nuts) and Zinc (found in red meat, seafood, eggs) as these can help the body fight disease.

Eat plenty of fish, red meat and iron-fortified cereals to keep your body strong and iron levels high.

Alec has started giving me a wide berth as I’ve taken on board herbal naturopath, Elaine McBride’s dietary advice in a big way: ‘Add plenty of raw garlic to food as this is nature’s antibiotic and a blood cleanser,’ she says. I consume whole cloves and then wonder why Alec’s level of affection drops off. Elaine’s other advice is to laugh. ‘Laughing enhances the body’s immune system and improves general health and well-being,’ she says.

Make sure you are getting enough sleep, adequate rest and your stress levels are low, as stress depresses the immune system.

If you do get sick

Stay hydrated, take time off work, eat a nutritious diet – then watch a comedy and giggle your way to good health!


Elaine McBride –

Australian Government Department of Health and ageing website:

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