How to avoid colds
Catching a cold at this time of year can make you feel totally sunk, and not just from sneezing and a bad cough. Follow some tips to avoid colds naturally.
Another irritating thing? All that unwanted advice from family and friends.
“I take a lot of vitamin C and I never catch a cold.”
It seems like almost everyone has a trick they use to avoid colds, but does any of these things really work?
As long as we are in reasonable health conditions and not fighting a serious disease.
Infectious disease experts say there’s not much we can do to “strengthen our immune system” and prevent colds.
But as little as we can do, here are some tips to avoid colds that might be of interest to you:
There are no “superfoods” or supplements that can guarantee you’ll never get sick.
Dr. Marek Smieja, specialist in microbiology and infectious diseases at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton.
He says there are many viruses out there that could cause a cold, we are always finding new ones and our immune system has never seen them before.
There are more than 160 strains of rhinovirus, which is the virus responsible for most colds.
There is also a virus called RSV that causes many of the childhood colds, coronaviruses, adenoviruses…
Any immunity we build up to one strain won’t work to protect us from the other viruses.
That’s why he says the average adult can wait to get one or two colds a year, while children may have seven or eight a year.
So if you only get sick with a cold, it doesn’t mean you have a compromised immune system.
Some people simply react differently to cold viruses than others.
In fact, in the studies Dr. Smieja has done, she has found a large number of people who test positive for rhinovirus, but do not show any symptoms.
“And we still don’t know why that is, why some people get sick,” he says.
Tips to avoid colds
That said, there are some things science knows how to do and helps prevent colds. Take a look you’ll see some of them.
Catching up on sleep
If there is one trick to maintaining the functioning of the immune system, which could be more important than any other, it is whether or not you are getting a good rest.
A study earlier this fall that deliberately tried to infect people with a cold found that those who are sleep-deprived are much more likely to get sick.
The experiment uses 164 volunteers who had their sleep patterns and measured for one week.
The researchers then took them to a hotel, used nose drops to directly infect the cold viruses and waited to see what happened.
Volunteers who slept less than six hours per night were 4.2 times more likely to catch the cold than those who received more than seven hours of sleep each night.
Those who slept less than five hours were 4.5 times more likely.
No matter what age the volunteers were or even if they were smokers, statistically, sleep was the greatest and strongest predictor of susceptibility to cold virus.
Smieja said it’s still not clear why sleep is so important, but it probably has to do with what allows the body to keep its first lines of defense in good shape.
“We believe that without enough sleep, there is not enough regeneration of mucosal tissue cells around the nose and in the mouth apart from other deficiencies.”
Which allows viruses to enter our systems more easily.
Don’t exercise too much
If you need tips to avoid colds…being active for 30 minutes a day could drastically reduce the frequency of colds.
Since research has found that those who are in good shape simply get fewer colds.
A recent study in the American Journal of Medicine looked at 115 older, sedentary, overweight women.
Half of the women were told to exercise for 30- 45 minutes, five days a week for a year, while the others were asked to stretch only once a week .
Athletes had about half as many colds by the end of the year as the “stretchers.
In fact, the benefits of exercise seemed to increase over time so the risk of colds in those “stretching”.
It was more than three times higher than athletes in the last three months of the study.
“Exercise seems to boost what we call natural killer cells,” explains Dr. Smieja. It also improves circulation and allows our lungs to breathe more deeply.
The key, however, is not to exercise to the point of exhaustion.
Some studies have shown that regular intense exercise can actually suppress immune function, and put you at risk for catching a cold.
There are many herbal remedies and vitamin supplements in stores that are intended to boost or support immunity, but unfortunately, the evidence behind most of them is not very large.
A review of the Cochrane Collaboration in 29 large studies comparing vitamin C, found that compared with placebos…
Vitamin had no effect on reducing the incidence of the common cold.
Nor were there enough studies to say that vitamin C helps shorten colds.
Garlic has been promoted as a cold fighter as well, but, once again, much of the research has been poorly done.
So you can’t draw conclusions about whether it’s really useful or not.
Smieja says there has been some promising research on a link between low vitamin D levels and colds.
But he says it’s too early to recommend anything to anyone.
He says there is no vitamin or herbal formulation that he would recommend you buy to spend money on preventing a cold.
Wash hands well
You probably already know the best tips to avoid colds…wash your hands.
No matter how strong your immunity is…
Smieja says: if you come into contact with a cold virus and then touch your nose or mouth with contaminated fingers, your chances of infecting yourself will increase considerably.
Washing with soap is recommended at least five times a day.
Research has shown that in practice, it’s the only thing that can reduce the risk of infection from a cold by almost 30 percent.
Aside from keeping your hands clean and away from your face as much as possible…
Smieja says science hasn’t found too many surefire ways to prevent colds.
The best advice is the same advice that works all year round: get as much sleep as you can, exercise every day, and try to have a good diet and a balanced diet.