8 ways to virus-proof yourself

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Given the Mers situation in South Korea and the recent flu outbreak in Hong Kong, we thought these tips would come in handy.

1) Take Vitamin D

Your vitamin D levels may run low during the rainy months, making you prone to catching the cold. That matters: Vitamin D can spur your body to fight off colds.

In fact, taking 10,000IU of vitamin D3 a week may cut your risk of upper respiratory infection in half, say Canadian researchers.

2) Eat Greek Yogurt

Cold and flu viruses might have an Achilles' heel: Greek yogurt.

In a study published in Clinical Nutrition, people who consumed a specific strain of probiotics daily reduced their risk of catching one of these bugs by 27 per cent.

Aim to eat at least one serving a day of a Greek yogurt with live cultures, suggests Dr Spencer Payne, an associate professor of rhinology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in the US.

3) Blanche Your Vegetables

Viruses that cause foodborne illnesses tend to loiter on produce.

So, to further slash your chance of sickness, try blanching your greens - kale, spinach, and chard, for example - in boiling water for two to three minutes.

Then dunk them in ice water to stop the cooking.

4) Exercise

This is for when you are considering a flu shot. When you exercise prior to receiving a flu shot, the post-exercise inflammation boosts your body's immune response to the virus in the vaccine, according to a study review in Brain, Behavior And Immunity.

That translates to more powerful infection protection.

How much sweat is enough? A British study found that people who performed 25 minutes of lifts targeting their biceps and deltoids were able to increase their immune response.

5) Stop Drinking Alcohol

University of Massachusetts Medical School research in the US suggests that one binge-drinking session triggers a flood of cytokines - proteins that can induce fever and increase inflammation.

Any more than five drinks in two hours is a binge, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the US says.

6) Eat More Fish

Strenuous workouts can leave you vulnerable to infection. But if you want to keep up the intensity, at least fill your plate with fish.

A 2012 study in Brain, Behavior And Immunity found that increasing your omega-3 intake can spur post-exercise production of infection-fighting cells, which can help protect against certain infections. Tired of tuna melts? Top your pizza with anchovies.

7) Top Up With Ginger

Researchers in Taiwan have discovered that fresh ginger can inhibit respiratory syncytial virus from attaching to cells and may even reduce its ability to replicate.

So what in the world is respiratory syncytial virus? Just a bug that, in severe cases, can lead to bronchiolitis or pneumonia.

Grate some ginger in hot water for a spicy tea, or add it to your next stir-fry with vegetables and garlic.

8) Invest in Sauerkraut

Researchers in Italy report that lactobacillus plantarum, a type of probiotic found in such fermented foods as kraut and kimchi, may reduce the potency of a certain kind of strep bacteria.

The L. plantarum triggers a portein that helps control inflmmation while simultaneously slowing bacterial growth.

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