While there are no known cures for the common cold or the flu bug, there are several methods you can employ in your life to seriously reduce the risk of getting them during the cold and flu season, and these preventative steps should be a priority….unless of course you enjoy getting these miserable little ailments.
An aggressive approach to warding off flu and colds can save you a lot of time in bed with a bottle of cough syrup on your bedside table, and preventing colds and flu in the first place not only saves you from some unpleasant symptoms, but it can also make your life a whole lot healthier in the process.
During the cold and flu season, you’re going to see a lot of advertisements for flu shots, and this method is certainly the most common and effective way to avoid getting sick. But if, for some reason, you’re not a big fan of the flu shot, there are equally effective and natural ways to avoid colds and flu. Below are some tips:
Eat Right and Exercise
Following a proper nutrition plan is an extremely effective and proactive way to reduce the risk of cold and flu, and can sometimes prevent them altogether. Phytochemicals in vegetables and some fruits are those natural chemicals that give you the vitamins in food a supercharged boost. Eating dark green, red, and yellow vegetables and fruits have been proven to nourish the body significantly, which supports your immune system and fights off flu bugs and the common cold.
Besides eating right, exercise is another virus-killer. Specifically, aerobic exercise speeds up the heart to pump larger quantities of blood, which in turn, facilitates you breathing faster to help transfer oxygen from your lungs to your blood. Exercise also makes you sweat once your body heats up, and sweating helps eliminate viral toxins, and increases the body's natural virus-killing cells.
Avoid the Bad Habits
Drinking a lot of alcohol can suppress the immune system in several ways. Heavy drinkers are more prone to initial infections as well as secondary complications. Alcohol also dehydrates the body, and can cause you to lose more fluids from your system than you take in. Fluids are great for preventing flu bugs and colds, and without fluids, you are more prone to contracting these illness, as well as others. Significantly reducing your alcohol consumption will help you avoid these ailments, specifically flu and colds.
Smoking is even worse. According to statistics, heavy smokers get more severe colds and more frequent ones than non-nicotine users. Even exposing yourself to secondhand smoke significantly takes a toll on the immune system. Smoke dries out your nasal passages and paralyzes cilia, delicate hairs that line the mucous membranes in your nose and lungs. Cilia sweep cold and flu viruses out of the nasal passages, and without them, even one cigarette can paralyze cilia for as long as an hour. That window of time is just enough to contract a nasty cold or flu. Additionally, heavy smoking can also dry out your adrenal glands, so it’s best to cut back or quit altogether. Besides saving your lungs and boosting your immune system, you’ll enjoy a much healthier life.
The art of relaxation actually boosts your immune system. Conversely, stress can attack your immune system and cause it to weaken, making you more susceptible to colds and flu. If you can teach yourself to relax, there is evidence that suggests that relaxation boosts interleukins into your bloodstream, leaders in the immune system response against cold and flu viruses. You can train yourself to relax through various relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation. Other techniques include a massage, acupuncture or a simple hot bath or shower. Those who can relax will change their blood chemicals, and reduce the risk of catching a cold or flu bug.
Practice Good Hygiene
Cold and flu viruses are delivered and spread through human contact. When someone with the flu sneezes onto his hand and then touches something like a keyboard or a doorknob, these germs can live for hours on that object, only to be picked up by the next person who touches the same object. Washing your hands often, or using hand sanitizer to thoroughly kill those surface germs, is a sure-fire way to drastically reducing the amount of easily “spreadable” germs.
Germs and viruses cling to bare hands as well. Coughing or sneezing in your hands can often result in passing along your germs to others. When you feel a sneeze or cough coming, don’t use your hands. Use the inside of your elbow, or better yet, a tissue.
Flu and cold viruses enter your body through the nose, eyes and mouth. Touching your face is the major way people catch colds and a key way they pass colds on to others. So try to avoid touching your face. If you have to, again, use a tissue.
While there’s no guarantee that these tips will completely prevent you from catching a cold or flu this season, they do significantly decrease the chances of you contracting germs, which cause these ailments. A simple and conscious awareness that germs are all around you, as well as practicing these type of prevention techniques might just save you from another round of the aches, pains and sniffles this cold and flu season.
David Novak is a international syndicated newspaper columnist, appearing in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV around the world. His byline has appeared in GQ, National Geographic, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Reader's Digest, USA Today, among others, and he has appeared on The Today Show, the CBS Morning Show and Paul Harvey Radio. David is a specialist at consumer technology, health and fitness, and he also owns a PR firm and a consulting company where he and his staff focus on these industries. He is a regular contributing editor for Healthline. For more information, visit http://www.healthline.com/.