Useful tricks to avoid colds and the flu

Once the cold season steps in, you’re also probably bracing yourself for the usual bout of colds and flu. But that need not be the case.

According to Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of the book “Real Cause, Real Cure,” there are now new studies showing that certain lifestyle changes can help boost our body’s natural defenses against colds and flu.

Here are 10 strategies that can help you stay in tiptop shape:

1. Keep your toes warm – Ron Eccles, PhD, director of the Common Cold Centre at Britain’s Cardiff University notes that having chilly toes can lead to colds.

Reason behind it: Cold feet signal the brain to conserve your body’s heat. Your brain then responds by sending messages all over your body to reduce blood flow to certain parts of your body that lose heat quickly, such as the mucus membranes of the sinuses. Now when blood flow is decreased, it also means that the flow of infection-fighting white blood cells is decreased, thus making your body more exposed to viruses. The doctor’s advice? Wear warms socks.

2. Gargle with salt water – A study revealed that gargling with a mixture of 8 oz warm water and half a teaspoon of salt for at least 10 seconds twice a day could prevent any risk of viral infection for as much as 34%.

Reason behind it: When we breathe, sickness-causing bacteria or viruses can get stuck in your mucus membrane at the back of your throat. Carrie Demers, MD, medical director of the Total Health Center in Honesdale, PA explains further that gargling with water that contains salt can flush out problematic phlegm and purge illness-producing bacteria or viruses.

3. Stay clear of pain meds for minor aches – According to Dr. Demers, pain meds such as aspirin, ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAID) work by preventing the natural, protective compounds of our body like white blood cells. Remember that white blood cells are the very agents in our body that are responsible for attacking and destroying invading germs.

4. Exercise – Researchers at the Appalachian State University in Boone, NC reveal that by working out daily, you are cutting your risk of catching a cold by as high as 50%.

Reason behind it: Pamela Peeke, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and author of “Fit to Live: The 5-Point Plan to Be Lean, Strong, and Fearless for Life” explains that regular exercise stimulates the brain to produce more serotonin, dopamine and human growth hormone. These compounds help your body to optimize production of germ-fighting antibodies and make them more aggressive when they encounter invaders.

5. Have some tea – Studies reveal that our bodies produce three times more interferons, which is a powerful protein that destroys viral invaders on contact. This happens if you sip 20 oz of black tea daily.

Reason behind it: Dr. Peeke explains that tea’s natural potent antioxidants ins the reason behind it.

6. Add your TV time – Researchers at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University reveal that taking a daily, calming TV break can actually cut your risk of developing an illness by as high as 80%.

Reason behind it: Dr. Demers explains that the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline slow down white blood cells, making it harder for them to kill invading viruses. But then fun-filled breaks that make you feel relaxed squashes adrenalin and cortisol output within minutes, thus allowing your immune system to aggressively attack invaders.

7. Get into crafting – Experts at Stony Brook’s State University of New York in Long Island say that spending at least 20 minutes a day doing soothing, stress-shedding craft such as sewing, scrapbooking, or the like can help strengthen your immunity by 76%.

Reason behind it: Dr. Demers explains that your body’s ability to produce virus-fighting white blood cells and protective antibodies rise as soon as stress hormone production drops.

8. Sleep more – Researchers at Carnegie Mellon Univeristy say that sleeping at least 8 hours a night can reduce your risk of catching nasty infections or staying sick for a longer time.

Reason behind it: Dr. Peeke explains that deep sleep is our body’s time for building infection-fighting antibodies and interleukins, these are your natural inflammation and illness fighters.

9. Go for a massage – Wendy Warner, MD, founder of Philadelphia’s Medicine in Balance and author of “Boosting Your Immunity for Dummies explains that the soothing strokes of massage can reduce the body’s production of immunity-weakening stress hormones and increase feel-good hormones like dopamine serotonin for up to 30%.

10. Indulge in breakfast – Researchers at the Netherlands’ Masstricht University Medical Centre say that breakfast eaters are half as likely to have viral infections.

Reason behind it: Eating breakfast regularly can triple your body’s production of gamma interferon, which is a natural antiviral compound.

Source: Woman’s Day