Winter allergies are quite common and due to the current pandemic situation, everyone needs to take extra care and closely monitor any new symptoms. Viruses are often widespread over winter, and with various gatherings and visiting families, we'll be more exposed.
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During a chat with HELLO!, This Morning medic Dr Ranj explains how you can maintain a healthy immune system by eating a healthy, balanced diet, getting enough sleep and making sure you squeeze in some exercise to help prevent you getting poorly over this cold season. Read his Q&A below…
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What makes a real difference when you feel yourself getting sick?
My biggest piece of advice is to listen to your body. When your body tells you to take a break and rest up, do it. Drinking plenty of fluids and eating a healthy, balanced diet is even more important when we're not feeling 100% to make sure our bodies can have the right fuel to fight off whatever's in our system. Sometimes, our bodies need help and that's exactly what the NHS is for. If it's not urgent, looking on 111.nhs.uk is a great pitstop for when you're struggling.
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What's the best way to protect yourself against winter allergies?
Allergies can happen at any time of the year, but there are some that may be triggered during the colder months. The cold weather can make conditions like asthma worse, so make sure you are on top of your treatment and use your preventer regularly if advised to do so. Also, covering your face (with a mask, scarf or face-covering) can reduce cold air exposure which could help.
Vacuuming, dusting and washing bedding/cleaning soft furnishings around the home more often can help reduce contact with house allergens like dust mites and pet dander. Try to keep rooms warm and damp-free to reduce the build-up of any mould which can sometimes cause allergic reactions.
If you have a serious allergy and have been recommended specific treatment (such as an adrenaline auto-injector) then make sure you are aware of your triggers and have adequate supplies of emergency medication should you need it.
Dr Ranj regularly graces our TV screens with helpful advice
What's the best way to stay fit during the winter?
A trip to the gym when it's cold can seem unappealing, so why not try a workout at home? A few bodyweight exercises you could try include jump squats, push-ups or burpees or even a class via Zoom.
Exercise with a friend or in a group to keep you motivated and distracted from the cold weather. For those who prefer exercising in the morning, optimise your morning alarm to a song or something motivational and don't hit snooze.
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If you're commuting and do like exercising in the evening, put on your workout gear before leaving the office. This will get you in the mind frame to get some exercise in after work.
If you don't enjoy exercising in the dark mornings and evenings, carve out some time for yourself in the middle of the day, or try going for a long walk at lunch. Build-in as much 'incidental exercise' as you can into your day: get off the bus early and walk the last few stops instead, park your car further away and walk the rest, take the stairs instead of the lift, and regularly alternate sitting and standing at your desk.
With exercising, persistence is key to seeing the physical benefits, however, the mental benefits are almost instant and the release of endorphins means it can be a great form of stress relief.
Keep yourself motivated and distracted from the cold weather
Suggestions for healthy eating during the winter?
Eat the rainbow: ideally, your diet should be varied, plant-heavy, colourful and include all the relevant food groups. Variety really is key to getting all the nutrients you need and stopping it from getting boring.
Make sure you're getting your five portions of fruit and veg a day with hearty but healthy foods like vegetable stews or a bowl of porridge with a good portion of berries.
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Eat something healthy before going to see loved ones or friends, a snack like an apple can curb hunger, or bring a nutritious dish to the occasion.
Make a list of your favourite winter indulgences and perhaps space these out to once a week, as having a plan like this will help you make healthier choices.
Also, if you are going out for the night, perhaps make a snack ready for when you get back in to resist the temptation to grab a takeaway on the way home!
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