I am dedicating this blog post to the cold that I picked up this past weekend in the mountains. As the weather grows colder the chances of catching the sniffles grows as well. Statistics say that you'll catch two to four colds this winter. Hear are some drug-free prevention strategies to keep your head clear!
Sleep regulates the release of the hormone cortisol, which stimulates cells that boost the immune system, which is crucial for defending against the cold virus. Getting at least seven hours of of sleep is the easiest way to avoid the common cold. (Recent studies indicate that people who fall short are nearly three times as likely to catch a cold)
Moderate exercise (30 to 90 minutes) most days of the week increases immune function and reduces your chances of catching a cold. Key word: MODERATE. Prolonged high-intensity exercise can actually make you more susceptible to sickness. If you are already sick studies have shown that moderate exercise can also help you recover from a cold more quickly than normal.
3. A HOT AND COLD SHOWER
Temperature fluctuations jump-start your immune system. At the end of a shower, stand under the hottest stream you can take for 30 seconds, then turn the temperature cold for 10 seconds. Repeat three times, finishing with cold. A steamy shower helps keep nasal passages clear and can prevent cold-causing germs from taking up residence in your nose.
(This is my favorite tip. Lucky for us it is oyster season!) Oysters contain more of the mineral zinc than any other food, and zinc has been proven to support and enhance the immune system. Just one oyster has 13mg of zinc! Don't like oysters or find it hard to work them into your diet regularly? Look for zinc-fortified breakfast cereals, baked beans and pumpkin seeds to help you get the recommended 8 mg a day. Zinc is also effective when taken at the first sight of a cold. (Cold-Eeze and Zicam contain zinc and have been shown to decrease the duration of a cold)
5. VITAMIN D
Vitamin D helps regulate your immune system. People with low Vitamin D are much more susceptible to catching a cold. The recommended daily allowance is 200 to 600 IU (international units) however experts now suggest taking a 1,000 IU supplement (there is strong evidence that the RDA is too low). Multivitamins generally contain 400 IU. If you drink a lot of milk, frequently eat fatty fish, like salmon or live in a sunny climate, you probably get an adequate amount since all three increase your body's stores of vitamin D.
(I got these facts from a past issue of Real Simple Magazine)