You may have missed your opportunity to get that flu shot, but don’t fret.

If you’re cautious and proactive, you can still sidestep a cold or flu infection this winter.

Step 1: Get defensive

As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This entails regular and thorough hand washing.

Wash your hands after touching public or communal surfaces, especially in places where there are a high concentration of people, and when entering your home.

It is also a good idea to wash hands after coming into contact with other people. Better yet, limit or avoid contact with others through social distancing.

Wiping down communal surfaces and not sharing eating utensils and cups and glasses at home are also good ideas, as is separating toothbrushes in the bathroom so that they don’t all touch each other.

READ MORE: 5 steps to fortify your immune defences.

Step 2: Take a breath

And remember to breathe, preferably outside in the cold. A 2014 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, proved that people who followed a breathing and cold therapy technique developed by Dutch adventurer Wim Hof, learnt to control their immune response and autonomous nervous system (after just 10 days of practising Hof’s approach).

READ MORE: Re-learn the lost art of breathing to improve your performance.

Step 3: Boost intestinal health

Contrary to popular belief, certain types of bacteria are in fact beneficial to human health when ingested. These substances are commonly known as probiotics and help to promote gastrointestinal health, which is a key factor in optimal immunity.

Over the last decade, there has been an explosion of research into the immuno-stimulatory properties of probiotics. For example, studies on the effects of probiotics found that their use caused circulating natural immune killer cells to return back to normal pre-exercise resting levels after exercise at a faster rate. This indicates that probiotics may be able to reduce the likelihood of infections, especially after heavy bouts of training.

READ MORE: Why the path to vibrant health starts in your gut