When your immune system is compromised, you’re much more susceptible to contracting coughs and colds that you may accidentally pick up from others that you meet in your daily routine. These illnesses can range from annoying to very serious depending on the strength of your immune system, and while by and large viral problems might not always be the most dangerous illnesses, they’re still definitely unwanted visitors! There are lots of things you can do to avoid getting sick as the colder months draw in – learn here how to avoid catching nasty colds and flu this winter, by boosting your immune system naturally.Eat the right foodsThere are many foods you can eat that will help keep your immune system healthy, as well as actively warding off any nasties. This is a great way of staying healthy, as many of the foods don’t require many – if any – variants from your usual diet, simply increase your intake of these food groups.The first line of defence against infection is Vitamin C – Vitamin C has many incredible benefits for warding off disease. You should increase your intake of items high in Vitamin C, such as citrus fruits. You can snack on oranges and add lemon and lime to your savoury meals. There are also many concentrated Vitamin C supplements available over the counter and at health shops that you can take. Red bell peppers and spinach are also full of Vitamin C, so why not try a delicious stuffed peppers recipe for dinner? While it may not make your breath smell the best, garlic is also an extremely good preventative measure to keep illnesses at bay. While some say eating raw garlic cloves is a great method to stay healthy (each to their own!), others suggest that just cooking with lots of garlic also helps. Either way, make sure to add some of this infection fighting goodness to your diet! Ginger is a well-known cure for a sore throat, but it also contains powerful medicinal properties that can prevent illnesses, too. If you don’t eat ginger regularly, chow down on it at the first sign of illness – whether it be a headache or sore throat. Drink ginger tea or make your own, by adding some root ginger, honey and lemon to hot water and allowing it to steep before sipping. This should be drunk every morning to ward off illnesses but can also be used as a throat soothing cure if you start drinking it when that itchy throat feeling strikes! We all know that natural yoghurt is full of ‘live cultures’ and ‘good bacteria’ – but what exactly does this mean for your health? Some types of yoghurt contain probiotics, which will over time improve your digestive health, and reduce inflammation. Additionally, yoghurt contains magnesium, selenium, Vitamin D and zinc, which play a large part in immune health. Although it may not be the hot food you crave in winter, make sure to have a healthy, filling, and immune boosting breakfast of Greek yoghurt (with a little honey and some almonds or walnuts) in winter to keep your gut – and in turn, health – happy.Stay hydratedHydration is a must for keeping yourself healthy in general, but this is even more important when it comes to preventing illness and infection. Water helps your body naturally eliminate toxins and bacteria by, quite literally, flushing them out. If you pick up some nasty bacteria, drinking lots of water will help it exit your body before it takes hold. Additionally, water is important for keeping your throat lubricated to stop it becoming sore. While water is the best drink for its purity of hydration, you can also hydrate with diluted fruit juices and with hot teas. Hot teas are particularly good for fighting bacteria, as they keep you hydrated while also helping to kill bacteria that may be in the mouth and throat. Try to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day, and as many un-caffeinated hot teas as you can.Wash it awayPersonal hygiene is integral to your health – you’re likely to pick up bacteria from the things you touch throughout the day. Even if you are clean, others may not be – you never know what illnesses someone else might be carrying, and how frequently they wash their hands. Touching things others have touched is unavoidable, but infection can be. Wash your hands regularly throughout the day, especially after doing things like getting public transport, and avoid touching your face or mouth throughout the day. If you can’t wash your hands as regularly as you’d like, keep a hand sanitiser with you at all times for use in a pinch.Sleep it offWhen we are asleep, our body repairs and rejuvenates itself; its one of the main reasons we need a good night’s sleep! Sleep produces proteins called cytokines, and when you are sick you require more of them. If you don’t sleep well or for long enough, this will decrease the production of these all-important cytokines. Not only this, while lack of sleep of course will make you feel grumpy and tired, these feelings will exacerbate the symptoms of illness. So not only are you more likely to get sick while sleep deprived, lack of sleep will actually make symptoms of illness feel worse, too. The best thing you can do as a preventative measure is try and sleep well with a good routine nightly – but when you do feel the first signs of sickness, take yourself off to bed!Look after yourselfTaking time for yourself is an important part of keeping yourself healthy, both physically and mentally. Taking time for yourself to reflect and even meditate can be amazing for the mind, body and soul. Why not make a ritual of your night-time skincare routine and practice light face massage, along with some deep breathing? Feeling overwhelmed, over-worked and with no time to yourself can lead to you feeling run down, which makes it easier to succumb to illnesses should they strike. Treat yourself to some Urban Veda skincare and take advantage of the therapeutic aromas (and naturally skin clearing and brightening ingredients), all while you calm and soothe your mind for those all-important five minutes at the end of the day.