Freezing cold temperatures and darker days are just about manageable but when you’re struck down with yet another cold, it’s enough to make even the cheeriest of us want to pack up and move somewhere warm.
Unfortunately, colds are more common in winter because we spend more time cooped up indoors. The good news is however that there are a number of simple things you can do to avoid catching one.
Increase hygiene habits
If you want to fight off all the germs that do the rounds in the winter months, it’s crucial to practice good hygiene habits. Wash your hands often or carry an antibacterial gel with you, especially if you’re around someone who is already ill. Also try to avoid touching your eyes or nose because these are the most common places for germs to enter our bodies.
Get plenty of sleep
You’re much more likely to catch a cold if you’re run down so try to get a decent eight hours of sleep every night. If you’re starting to feel run down, try to slow down a bit and let yourself rest. Doing so could help you to avoid developing a full-blown cold and you’re far more likely to recover faster if you’re getting plenty of sleep as well.
According to a study, (www.pnas.org) the old wives’ tale about keeping warm to avoid catching a cold really is true. The reason is because the common cold virus thrives and reproduces better in cooler temperatures inside the nose, thus making us more likely to contract the illness if we’re cold.
Akiko Iwasaki, a professor of immunobiology at Yale University commented:
“We found that the innate immune response to the rhinovirus (cold) is impaired at the lower body temperature compared to the core body temperature. The findings also strongly suggest that varying temperatures influence the immune system, rather than the virus itself.”
As well as wrapping up when you head outside, try to keep as warm as possible when you’re inside. Some top tips for keeping your body temperature up include:
- Wear layers
- Cover yourself with a blanket when watching television
- Use a hot water bottle
- Eat warm foods such as soup and drink hot beverages
- Keep your house warm by turning up the heating, insulating your property, covering up any drafts and installing window shutters to provide an extra barrier against the cold
Eat healthy foods
Healthy foods are packed full of cold-fighting nutrients. Some top immune boosting foods include:
- Research studies have found that people who take garlic supplements experience fewer and less severe colds than those who don’t. It’s thought this is because it helps to promote healthy gut flora which rids the body of toxins, bacteria and viruses.
- Beef is a good source of zinc and zinc is very important in the development of the white blood cells which defend the body. What’s more, the extra protein will support your body when it comes to building antibodies and fighting off infection.
- Sweet potato is a great source of Vitamin A which plays a key role in maintaining the health of your mucosal surfaces. This includes everything from the inside of your nose, your gastrointestinal tract and your skin. Believe it or not, your skin is your first line of defence for warding off colds because it stops infections entering your body.
- One of the most recent spices to be hailed as a superfood is turmeric. High in antioxidants, if consumed on a regular basis, it’s known to relieve the body of toxins and make you less susceptible to coughs, colds and congestion.
Visit health.com for some more great food ideas which help to fight off colds.