Sick of Being Sick?
4. Take the right vitamin
Research has confirmed megadoses of vitamin C won't do much to prevent
colds. But the next one in the alphabet may. Research from the University of
Colorado Denver School of Medicine and Harvard showed that people with the
lowest blood levels of vitamin D had significantly more respiratory infections
than those with the highest. If you don't have enough D, you produce lower
amounts of the proteins that kill bacteria and viruses, explains Adit Ginde,
M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of surgery. To get levels up to cold-fighting
strength, most people need at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D a day.
5. Keep your toes warm
Give this one to Mom: Catching a chill can jump-start a cold, say
researchers at Cardiff University's Common Cold Centre. Plunging the feet of
volunteers into cold water triggered the onset of cold symptoms in 10 percent
of subjects, while there were far fewer colds in the "toasty toes" control
group. Cooling the feet, explain researchers, causes constriction of the blood
vessels in upper airways, which may reduce defenses against vexing viruses.
Women who get regular aerobic workouts may be able to lower their risk of
colds compared with those who have less intense regimens. In a study at Fred
Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, moderate-intensity exercisers had about half
as many colds over the course of a year as those who'd done gentler stretching
routines. Other research has suggested exercise increases immune cells in the
blood and saliva, says study author Jessica Chubak, Ph.D. Your Rx: a moderately
intense activity (brisk walking, cycling, water aerobics), 45 minutes a day,
five days a week.
7. Scrub, scrub, scrub
When hospitals step up their hand-washing programs, infection rates drop
significantly. The same would be true in your home. And you don't need special
products: A study from the University of Michigan School of Public Health found
that people who use antimicrobial cleansers have no fewer respiratory illnesses
than those who wash with regular soap. Especially important during cold and flu
season: Scrub your hands as soon as you come inside, and use a hand-sanitizing
gel if you can't get to a sink.