After all of the excitement of the holidays and ushering in a promising new year, there might be nothing worse than getting sick. Just as you’re trying to get back on track at work after a few days off, the last think you need is the runny nose, sinus pressure, and terrible headache of a bad cold that leaves you desperate to stay in bed.
But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. While it may be impossible to ward off every germ you’re exposed to this winter, we have some tried-and-true methods of avoiding illness that should go a long way toward keeping you healthy. Read on for some natural ways to prevent a cold or flu virus from getting the best of you.
1. Exercise Daily
Physical activity helps strengthen not only your muscles, but your immune system as well, so you can better fight off all kinds of bugs. A 2010 study at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina showed that walking for 30 to 45 minutes a day increases the amount of immune system cells present in the body and results in nearly half the number of sick days as in those who are sedentary.1 Nieman, David C.; et al. “Upper respiratory tract infection is reduced in physically fit and active adults.” British Journal of Sports Medicine. 1 November 2010. Accessed 20 December 2016. http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2010/09/30/bjsm.2010.077875.abstract?sid=fe62a8c5-430b-4506-b854-20b62e8a5e9e.
2. Wash Your Hands Frequently
Using soap and water regularly throughout the day can strip your hands of the germs that are so easily transferred internally when you casually touch near your eyes, nose, or mouth. (If your hands tend to get dry in the cold winter months, keep some moisturizer nearby because frequent washing can make the problem worse. But it’s worth it.) Just don’t substitute hand sanitizer for a sink washing. The antimicrobials they contain have been linked to the development of breast cancer.
3. Get Sufficient Sleep
Sleep is essential to our health in many ways. You may not be able to get the recommended seven to eight hours every single night, but do your best to set that as your standard. In fact, a 2015 study at the University of California, San Francisco showed that people sleeping for less than six hours a night are more than four times as likely to catch a cold as their peers who slumber for more than seven hours a night.2 Prather, Aric A.; et al. “Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold.” Sleep. September 2015. Accessed 21 December 2016. http://www.journalsleep.org/ViewAbstract.aspx?pid=30153.
4. Drink Adequate Amounts of Water
All liquids are not created equal, so even if you like a little coffee or juice in the morning, make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day. Remember, coffee is a diuretic; it drains water out of your body. And juice is high in sugar. Aim for 64 to 96 ounces of water daily to ensure you are properly hydrated. Water helps flush toxins from the body and keeps mucus thin if you do happen to be fighting off a cold.
Meditation is a great calming, stress-busting activity. Those positive effects can have a major impact on our immunity. Therefore, it’s not surprising that meditation was shown in a 2012 study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to reduce respiratory infections by a whopping 40 to 50 percent.3 Barrett, Bruce; et al. “Meditation or Exercise for Preventing Acute Respiratory Infection: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Annals of Family Medicine. July/August 2012. Accessed 21 December 2016. http://www.annfammed.org/content/10/4/337.full?sid=48dba568-66ef-448d-bed4-1a3a6e0e76f6.
6. Go Heavy on Garlic
Garlic is a tasty herb that adds quite a bit of flavor in dishes. But even more than that, it is a potent infection fighter that can help you stay healthy this winter. Of course, you’d probably prefer not to walk around smelling like you just chewed on a clove, so you’re probably better off taking a supplement. A 2014 study at the University of Western Australia in Crawley found that daily supplementation with garlic was associated with fewer than half the number of colds as occurred in non-garlic takers. 4 Lissiman, Elizabeth; et al. “Garlic for the common cold.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 11 November 2014. Accessed 22 December 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0013804/. And that’s why garlic is a primary ingredient in Jon Barron’s Super ViraGon.
7. Boost Your Immune System
There are a number of herbs and nutraceuticals that can help power up your immune system. For example, studies have shown that Echinacea can reduce your chances of getting a cold by up to 58%, or shorten its duration if you get one by 1.4 days. Other immune boosting herbs include, suma, pau d’arco, and astragalus—all of which are found in Jon Barron’s Immunify.
8. Curb Your Sugar Intake
Last, but not least, is sugar, which is a problem for us in so many ways. The empty calories of sugar not only often lead to weight gain, but have been linked with an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. Plus, a study from way back in 1973 showed eating or drinking sugary items can decrease immune response by 50 percent for up to five hours after consumption.5 Sanchez, Albert; et al. “Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. November 1973. Accessed 22 December 2016. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/26/11/1180.abstract.
If you do end up with that telltale scratchy throat or nasal congestion, there are natural remedies that can lessen the duration of your infection. To learn about the best options for getting better fast—as well as what to avoid—check out Jon Barron’s How to Fight Colds, Flus, and Infections.
|↑1||Nieman, David C.; et al. “Upper respiratory tract infection is reduced in physically fit and active adults.” British Journal of Sports Medicine. 1 November 2010. Accessed 20 December 2016. http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2010/09/30/bjsm.2010.077875.abstract?sid=fe62a8c5-430b-4506-b854-20b62e8a5e9e.|
|↑2||Prather, Aric A.; et al. “Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold.” Sleep. September 2015. Accessed 21 December 2016. http://www.journalsleep.org/ViewAbstract.aspx?pid=30153.|
|↑3||Barrett, Bruce; et al. “Meditation or Exercise for Preventing Acute Respiratory Infection: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Annals of Family Medicine. July/August 2012. Accessed 21 December 2016. http://www.annfammed.org/content/10/4/337.full?sid=48dba568-66ef-448d-bed4-1a3a6e0e76f6.|
|↑4||Lissiman, Elizabeth; et al. “Garlic for the common cold.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 11 November 2014. Accessed 22 December 2016. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0013804/.|
|↑5||Sanchez, Albert; et al. “Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. November 1973. Accessed 22 December 2016. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/26/11/1180.abstract.|