Don't Suffer the Sniffles this Winter!
The average adult suffers 3 colds a year, each lasting around 9 days, and what a pain those 9 days are! You're not so ill that your life comes to a standstill, but a cold is more than enough to make muddling through the day so much more difficult. As the nights draw in and the temperature begins to drop, colds become more common. However, there are ways to not only make coming down with a cold less common, but also to shave a few days off the cold itself once it arrives. Read on to find out more!
Before you're ill
Of course the ideal scenario is one where you avoid getting ill altogether, easier said than done I know! But here are some top tips to help you keep healthier and stronger in order to fend off those dreaded winter sniffles!
Garlic contains allicin, a sulfuric compound that produces antioxidants when it decomposes.
Cruciferous vegetables contain chemicals that help white blood cells to fight off infections.
Salmon, tuna and mackeral are packed full of omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation in the body.
Most mushrooms contain some form of immune-boosting antioxidants, along with potassium, B vitamins, and fibre.
A German study showed that those who visited the sauna twice a week got 50% fewer colds than those who didn't! Of course you don't have to visit the sauna to get sweaty - which leads me on to a very important point -
Exercise 'Can Prevent a Cold'
A recent study showed that staying active reduced your chances of catching a cold by nearly 50%, and also showed that even if you do catch a cold staying active made the infection less severe. So whilst we retreat from exercise in the winter months, it's actually the opposite we need to do! Another reason to keep going to class! Exercise helps to strengthen your immune system thereby giving you greater support to fight off those pesky winter bugs.
Wash Your Hands
Pretty obvious I know but this is how germs are spread! Make sure you wash your hands regularly, don't skip the soap, and try not to touch your face throughout the day. If you're using public transport, interacting with people, paying for things in cash, just generally out and about shopping, picking up kids etc, remember germs are everywhere! So as tedious as it is, be sure to wash your hands regularly.
Don't smoke or drink
Ok it's obvious, we all know this advice, but both smoking and drinking alcohol significantly wear down your immune system and make it more likely that you will fall ill.
Take Vitamin D
A 2009 study from Massachusetts General Hospital found that lower vitamin D levels were associated with a greater risk of upper respiratory infections. As we're approaching winter and getting less sunlight, we're really missing out on vitamin D. You can find Vitamin D in fortified juices and cereals, in mushrooms, in oily fish and of course, as supplements.
The Sniffles have Started
So you've done all you can, but it hasn't worked. You're feeling the telltale tickly throat, your nose is starting to run and your sinuses are feeling the pressure. But you're not resigned to your fate, you're ready to fight back! This is what you need to do to tip the scales in your favour.
Making sure you're getting enough water is the best way to reduce your sore throat and stuffy nose. Drink regularly and often.
As soon as you feel the cold coming on, take some Zinc supplements. According to the NHS website an independant study showed that taking Zinc can reduce the severity of your cold as well as the duration by a few days, meaning you'll be feeling better sooner. But take care, taking high doses of Zinc can have side effects such as nausea, and it shouldn't be taken regularly outside of your cold. It seems however a proven way to speed up the recovery process once the cold has arrived.
Take Vitamin C
Just like Zinc, if you take Vitamin C as soon as you feel a cold coming on, you can shorten your cold by up to a day.
Rest and relax
We all know that sleep is precious and many of us don't get enough of it. Sleep is when your immune system releases cytokines, which help to prevent infection.
Stress and anxiety contribute to inflammation in the body - so take as much time as you possibly can to rest up, and do all that you can to reduce your stress levels.
Black, green and white tea all contain antioxidants called catechins. In a 2011 Japanese study, people who took catechin capsules for five months had 75% lower odds of catching the flu than people taking a placebo. Breathing in steam from hot tea also stimulates hair follicles in the nose to move out germs.
You might also like to make a tea with various other ingredients, such as Anise seeds and Fennel seeds (they have antibacterial properties and can help ease coughing), Lemon which will help to thin mucus, and Honey which has antibacterial properties.
So there's a few tips for you, don't worry, we're not helpless against the inevitable cold this winter, if you eat healthily, exercise regularly and get a good nights sleep you are doing three simple things that will go a long way towards snuffing those sniffles out!
Written material copyright of Rachel Lawrence.
All Rights reserved.