5 Easy, All-Natural Ways to Ward Off Cold Season

  If you aren’t sleeping as well as you normally do… if you’ve been too busy to exercise…and especially if you have been burning the candle at both ends … be careful.  These situations all weaken your immune system. And before you know it, the sneeze that happens right next to you can become your enemy. Today, let’s discuss cold prevention. So does this mean you’re destined to be the next in line to get sick? Or is there a way to dodge the bullet? Experts say there are no guarantees, but you can seriously lower your odds of illness by implementing a few simple precautions to sidestep germs and keep your immune system burning on all cylinders.

1. Keep Moving (But in Moderation)

Did you know that you can actually walk (or swim or cycle) your way to a stronger immune system? It’s true!  Research shows that regular exercise stimulates immune cells that can fight off colds and viruses. Researchers from the University of South Carolina discovered that people who walked or participated in moderate physical activity on a regular basis were 23% less likely to get colds. And if those who exercised did come down with a cold, symptoms disappeared much faster than participants who did little exercise.1 But if you are thinking more is always better, think again. Hard-core exercise may increase your chances of catching seasonal bugs. Too much exercise can tire out and weaken your body, opening the door to colds and pathogens.

2. Get Your ZZZZ’s to Aid in Cold Prevention

Sleep is one of the best practices for cold prevention. If you want to stay illness-free, get a good night’s sleep! This may seem like common sense, but few of us actually get the sleep we need. In fact, even minor sleep deprivation suppresses immune function. Time Magazine reported on a study published in the medical journal Sleep. Scientists discovered that people who slept six hours a night or less in the weeks before being exposed to a cold virus were four times more likely to catch the bug compared to those who slept for eight or more hours.2

3. Beat Bugs with Bacteria

The good kind of bacteria – dubbed probiotics – should be in your bug-fighting arsenal as one of your cold prevention measures. You’ve probably heard that probiotics are good for digestive health. These friendly bacteria help balance your intestinal tract and make your digestion run smoothly. But research shows probiotics are essential for supporting a strong immune system, too.  The reason? 80% of your immune cells reside in your intestinal tract. One British study found that volunteers who took probiotics daily shortened their bouts of the common cold by almost two days. Additionally, cold symptoms – headaches, coughing and sneezing – were reduced in severity.

4.Take Immune-Boosting Nutrients

If despite all your good intentions you catch the bug d’jour, loading up on certain nutrients can can shorten symptoms and in some cases help prevent illness all together. For instance Omega 3s have been found to help increase the activity of major immune cells. Researchers from Michigan State University found that fish oil high in the omega-3 fatty acid compound DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) seemed to boost activity of a white blood cell called a B cell, a vital part of the body’s immune response.4 You probably know that Vitamin D is important for bone and muscle health. But it’s great for supporting your immune system, too. One Harvard study shows people with low vitamin D levels were 36 percent more likely to catch upper respiratory infections. Vitamin D also helps to produce cathelicidin, a protein with virus zapping benefits.5  

5. R-E-L-A-X for Cold Prevention

How many times have you heard someone tell you that the best way to keep yourself healthy is to reduce your stress level?  It’s great in theory but it doesn’t always happen in practice. But it is true: Chronic stress reduces your ability to fight colds and flu and makes you much more vulnerable to illness.  The reason? Stress hormones like cortisol tend to attack your immune system. According to doctors at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, meditating could drastically cut the number of days people feel sick and miss work due to respiratory illnesses like colds and the flu. Taking time for yourself, yoga, and relaxing with a good book can keep the bag bugs away. You don’t have to let fall and winter illness get you down! With these five tips it’s easy to keep your energy up and immune system strong so you can fight off whatever comes your way – safely and naturally.
REFERENCES 1 retrieved from: https://www.livescience.com/8897-exercise-common-cold-common.html# and   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12165677 2 http://time.com/4017664/sleep-virus/ 3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24780623 4 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130401111545.htm 5 https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/02/study-confirms-vitamin-d-protects-against-cold-and-flu/ 6 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-meditation/meditation-exercise-may-cut-sick-days-from-colds-idUSBRE86H11420120718