Advertisement

Here's how to strengthen your immune system this winter - Dr Illona Duffy

Exercise, good food and fresh air are crucial if you want to prepare your immune system for COVID...
Michael Staines
Michael Staines

13.51 22 Nov 2021


Share this article


Here's how to strengthen your...

Here's how to strengthen your immune system this winter - Dr Illona Duffy

Michael Staines
Michael Staines

13.51 22 Nov 2021


Share this article


Exercise, good food and fresh air are crucial if you want to prepare your immune system for COVID or any other winter infection.

On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Dr Illona Duffy set out a range of changes we can all make to ensure we can face the winter head-on.

“At this time of year, we tend to see a surge in lots of other viral infections, such as the typical ones that would cause gastroenteritis where people might be presenting with vomiting and diarrhoea,” she said. “Interestingly I was on call at the weekend and we had quite a few of those presentations.

Advertisement

“In our kids, we are seeing a lot of this RSV – this Respiratory Syncytial Virus – that is causing a lot of confusion because it can present similar to the other well-known virus that is are going around at the moment – typically with the head cold-type symptoms and the cough.”

A walker takes advantage of the clear weather on barriers on Dollymount Strand in Dublin, 23-01-2017. Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews A walker takes advantage of the clear weather on barriers on Dollymount Strand in Dublin, 23-01-2017. Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews

She said there is always a winter surge in viruses and kids head back to school and people spend more time indoors.

This year, things are worse as many of us had no contact with viruses last year due to the COVID restrictions and precautions that were in place.

“Each year, adults will pick up probably between three and four head colds and kids will have between six and eight a year,” she said.

“But we know in the past year because everybody was so spaced apart, people just didn’t get sick.”

Dr Duffy said the best way to boost your immune system is to live a healthy lifestyle.

Smoking

“Starting off with the worst offenders, we have smoking,” she said.

“We know that smoking is going to leave you more prone to getting more severe infections if you meet those respiratory tract infections.

“So, try to quit the smoking. Coming close to Christmas it is always a hard time but there is never a good time and it is just making that decision and seeking that bit of help and support.”

Exercise

Dr Duffy said regular exercise improves your overall immune system and decreases the risk of cancer.

“When we look at cancer risk in women, we know that exercising two and a half hours a week can reduce your number of cases nearly by 50% if you look at the average number in people aged 50 to 59 over a five-year period,” she said.

“So, there are lots of benefits there – not only for infection, reducing that risk and improving your ability to fight it, but also reducing your cancer risk.”

Weight

“We hear lots of lectures about being overweight,” she said. “You are more likely to have a heart attack, you are more likely to get diabetes – but something people often don’t know is that by being overweight, you often find it harder to fight off infections that you meet and also be more prone to cancers.”

Dr Duffy said people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 and over have twice the risk of developing breast cancer.

“All of these things are important. Sometimes, we kind of think, I am not going to see an immediate result and therefor, it is hard to maintain that healthy lifestyle – but getting the exercise, getting the weight down, reducing the alcohol and stopping the smoking; they are all important and there is hard evidence to show it works.”

Vitamins

While people in Ireland are encouraged to take daily Vitamin D supplements to combat coronavirus and other respiratory diseases, Dr Duffy said a major study in the UK showed that Vitamin C may be less effective.

“We have always had this thing saying Vitamin C really helps, take some oranges, take some multi-vitamins – but really the data showed that it didn’t work at that stage.”


Share this article


Read more about

Beacg Coronavirus Covid Immune System

Most Popular

Live: Title

Now playing

00:00:00 / 00:00:00
Added to queue
Removed from queue

On Air

Share

Share


Up next

Episode title
Show
Duration

You currently have no podcasts in your queue.

Go to podcasts

On Air

Lunchtime Live

Lunchtime Live

12:00-14:00

Share

Up next

MONCRIEFF

MONCRIEFF

14:00-16:00

Share

THE HARD SHOULDER

THE HARD SHOULDER

16:00-19:00

Share

OFF THE BALL

OFF THE BALL

19:00-22:00

Share

THE TOM DUNNE SHOW

THE TOM DUNNE SHOW

22:00-00:00

Share

BEST OF NEWSTALK

BEST OF NEWSTALK

00:00-06:00

Share

BREAKFAST BRIEFING

BREAKFAST BRIEFING

06:00-06:30

Share

BREAKFAST BUSINESS

BREAKFAST BUSINESS

06:30-07:00

Share

NEWSTALK BREAKFAST

NEWSTALK BREAKFAST

07:00-09:00

Share

THE PAT KENNY SHOW

THE PAT KENNY SHOW

09:00-12:00

Share

LUNCHTIME LIVE

LUNCHTIME LIVE

12:00-14:00

Share

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Share on