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Fight the flu

Our expert panel have all the answers to those gnarly health issues. This month: dodging the winter lurgy

Q. I seem to get the flu every year, but I’m a busy working mum so I don’t have time to be ill! What can I do to reduce my chances of falling foul of the virus?

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The pharmacist

A. Tom Kallis, Boots pharmacist, says:

‘The best thing you can do? Get the flu jab. While no vaccination is 100% effective, it will help to prepare your body’s defences if you come into contact with the flu virus. As the virus mutates and gives rise to new strains, you’ll need to get the jab every year. The 2017 vaccine at Boots* offers the widest protection yet, guarding against four strains. Apart from getting the jab, wash your hands regularly, especially before eating – it really will help you avoid picking up the virus.’

The food guru

A. Boots nutritionist Vicky Pennington says:

‘Sorry, but mainlining fruit and veg when you start to feel ill won’t stop the flu taking hold. Start eating healthily now – at least five portions of fruit and veg, plus low-fat dairy, lean protein and wholegrain carbs, every day. Try to grab a portion of oily fish a week, too. Pay extra attention to vitamin C, which helps support immune system function. It’s not just found in citrus fruit: leafy, green veg such as kale and spinach, and fruit such as strawberries and papaya, are good sources. Make sure zinc is on your radar, too, as this can support normal function of the immune system. It’s found in lean meat like chicken, yogurt, baked beans and chickpeas. A perfect excuse to eat houmous!’

The meditation expert

A. Smita Joshi, yoga teacher, life coach and author

‘It’s no coincidence that when you’re run-down, you get ill – everyday stress can have an impact on your immunity. So why not try meditation? One study found that people who practised mindfulness meditation increased their antibodies in response to the flu vaccination, which is good news for your immune system. It’s easy to fit it into your day, too. Just find a spot at home where you feel relaxed. Ideally, you should sit with your back straight, but lying on your bed will do. Then breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth, focusing on the in and out. If your mind wanders, just bring it back to your breath. Try this for a minute or two to begin with, then increase gradually.’

Look out for the three-for-two offers on vitamins and supplements in store.

The cheapest item is free.

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*The Boots Winter Flu Jab Service is subject to eligibility criteria. It’s available in selected stores only, and charges apply. The free NHS vaccination is also available, subject to eligibility criteria, in most Boots stores in England and Wales. Simply book your vaccination appointment in a Boots pharmacy. Subject to pharmacist and stock availability. For more info, and to book, go to boots.com/flujab.

Compiled by Charlotte Grant-West Photography Getty Images

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