Sick of Being Sick?
11. Have a laugh
Those Friends reruns could rev up your immune response. In a study
from Western Kentucky University, healthy women who laughed vigorously at clips
featuring funnyman Bill Cosby showed significantly greater activity of their
body's natural killer cells than women who didn't laugh or had to sit through a
tourism video. "If your natural killer cells are working well, they can help
fight off colds and flu, including strains you've never been exposed to
before," says Mary P. Bennett, Ph.D., director of nursing.
12. Get culture
Yogurt, that is, along with other products containing probiotics. While
research is young, it seems these healthy bacteria can have significant
immune-boosting effects. In a recent, company-sponsored study, people who took
the probiotic supplement Sustenex for a month mounted a greater immune
response. Yogurt works, too, research from the University of California Davis
found. Subjects who ate a cup every day for four months increased their levels
of gamma interferon, an immune substance that helps white blood cells fight
disease. To get the cold-curbing benefits, look for "live, active cultures" on
the package or the Live & Active Cultures seal.
13. Enjoy a drink
Spirits aren't just good for your heart. "Having one or two drinks a day is
associated with less risk of getting a cold," says Cohen. Red wine may be
particularly protective, report researchers from the University of Santiago de
Compostela and the Harvard School of Public Health. They found that, compared
with nondrinkers, those who drank two glasses daily had about half the risk of
coming down with a cold. The reasons for the lower risk are unclear, but it
might be the anti-inflammatory action of the resveratrol in red wine. But don't
start drinking if you don't do so already.
14. Go green
When researchers at the University of Florida, Gainesville, gave volunteers
a green tea supplement containing L-theanine and epigallocatechin gallate
(EGCG) for 12 weeks, cold and flu incidence dropped by 32 percent. And those
who did become sick "had less severe and shorter bouts of illness," says
nutritional sciences professor Susan S. Percival, Ph.D. You can get the boost
by drinking six to eight cups of green tea daily or taking green tea capsules;
look for L-theanine and EGCG in the ingredients.
Did you know: 20 million workdays are lost due to colds every
If You Do Get Sick:
You can't stop every cold, but you can lessen the impact, especially if you
act quickly. To feel better, get well faster, and head off complications:
- Sip hot soup...or tea, or enjoy a hot meal. The warmth may promote
salivation and mucus secretions, which lubricate and soothe the throat, says
Ron Eccles, Ph.D., D.Sc., director of Cardiff University's Common Cold Centre.
"Spicy foods are also good," he adds.
- Take a shower Or follow Dr. Schaffner's prescription and opt for two
a day. "Warm moisture gets into mucous membranes and helps clear your nasal
passages," he says.
- Pop a supplement Echinacea can reduce a cold's duration by about a
day and a half, a review of studies from the University of Connecticut School
of Pharmacy found. Effective dose: 900 mg of Echinacea purpurea daily.
(Bonus: In this study, the herb also cut the number of colds.)
- Work it out Regular exercise may not only head off colds, but also
cut them short. Rule of thumb: If symptoms are from the neck up, try a light
workout; if they are below the neck, rest till they're gone.
- Blow gently CT scans taken as part of a University of Virginia
Health Sciences Center study documented that vigorous nose blowing can push
mucus from the nose up into the sinuses. This could make your cold worse or
bring on a secondary sinus infection. Solution: Gently blow each nostril
separately, and take a nasal decongestant to reduce fluid buildup, says Anil K.
Lalwani, M.D., chair of the department of otolaryngology at New York University
Langone Medical Center. "A combination product that has both an antihistamine
and pseudoephedrine is generally more effective than pills with just one of
those ingredients," he says. Some brand names: Actifed, Claritin-D,