Essentially, the best way to not get sick is to not get infected in the first place. Your immune system can be operating optimally but if an infection is bad enough, you will get sick. You won't, however, get sick if you take a few common sense precautions when you’re out and about.
Respiratory viruses – like the virus that causes COVID-19 – generally spread in 2 different ways:
Want to learn more? Check out our guide to how diet and exercise can balance the immune system.
If you're just going to do one thing to avoid getting sick – whether that is from colds or flu or the current coronavirus epidemic – washing your hands frequently is your best bet. That means washing your hands:
This is hard! One study found that we touch our face on average 23 times per hour. Even in the womb, babies touch their face, so this is behaviour that is completely natural to us. We do it for many reasons but perhaps the most important one is that it just feels nice.
Touching your face is how virus and bacteria travel from your hands to your nose, mouth or eyes, where they thrive. That is why touching your face – especially when you're out and about – is a big no-no if you want to avoid getting sick.
Ever heard someone say, 'I've never missed a day of work due to illness'? Either they've never been ill or they've been spreading germs all over their co-workers, and the second option is more likely than the first.
Staying home when feeling unwell isn't just about stopping the spread of disease, it's also about allowing yourself to rest and recover properly. You also won't be able to work as efficiently if you're sick – so stay home if you're coming down with something.
Whether at home or at work, it's a good idea to do a daily clean of surfaces that are often in use. All you need is a quick spray-and-wipe of tables, benches, railings and other surfaces that are often being touched.
For now, it's probably best to not shake hands or hug when you meet people.
Finally, the better your overall health, the better your immune system is able to fend off disease. By managing your weight and eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, you'll make sure your immune system is working at its very best. If you are eating properly you shouldn't feel the need to take additional dietary supplements.