How To Avoid A Cold This Fall

CoachMel Answers 12 Comments

I’ve already noticed quite a few people on Facebook mentioning they have a cold, and it’s not even officially fall yet.

So, why does the common cold occur more frequently during the fall (autumn) and winter months?

It’s actually not the cold weather itself which causes the cold, as some people think.

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But rather, it is most likely to be caused by people spending more time indoors in close proximity to each other, which facilitates the spread of germs more readily.

This is another reason why children in day care or school are more prone to picking up the cold.

Did you know that the common cold is the most frequently occurring illness in the world?

When I worked in a doctors surgery a few years back, it was one of the leading reasons to visit the doctor in the colder months, with many people mistakenly asking for antibiotics, which are of no benefit to treat a cold.

Apparently in the United States, 1 billion people suffer from the common cold each year. And, around 22 million days of school absences are recorded annually as a result, which is pretty shocking.

How Is The Cold Spread?

The cold is spread either by directly contacting infected secretions from a contaminated surface, or by inhaling the airborne particles, after someone sneezes or coughs… yuk!

So, how can you avoid getting a cold this fall or winter season?

Seven Ways To Avoid A Cold This Fall

1. Wash Your Hands

It seems pretty obvious, but it’s amazing how many people don’t do this.

The common cold is mostly spread by direct contact. So, someone sneezes onto their hand, and then touches something, which is then picked up by the next person, who touches that object.

Washing your hands often can significantly reduce your chance of picking up nasty germs.

Also, cold and flu viruses get into the body via the eyes, nose, or mouth. So, try to avoid touching your face, especially without first washing your hands.

2. Use A Tissue

Don’t forget that germs cling to your hands, so sneezing or coughing into your hand can result in passing those germs along to someone else.

Make it your habit this fall and winter to use a tissue for catching a sneeze or cough, then throw it away afterwards.

3. Eat A Nutrient-Rich Diet

If your diet is high in fat, sugar, junk foods, and caffeine, and you regularly skip meals, you are much more susceptible to minor illnesses, such as colds and flus.

But, before you think of reaching for pills to help you avoid a cold, you need to realize that good food can do so much more for your body than any pill can.

When you eat food, it has a natural synergy with your body. It works with it, and your body understands it. Nutrients in a pill can never have the same beneficial effect.

So, focus on eating a healthy, whole food diet, rather than worrying about what multivitamin to take this fall.

Colorful Variety
Think of nutritious foods as part of your cold-and-flu armor. This will help you to do battle with whenever illnesses try to strike your body.

Make sure your diet is filled with whole fruits and vegetables, in a variety of different colors, such as dark greens, reds, yellows, and purples. This will build up your immune system, and fight inflammation, if you do catch a cold.

Yogurt
There is some research showing that a cup of yogurt each day can reduce your susceptibility to colds by 25 percent.

It is thought this is the result of the beneficial bacteria in yogurt, stimulating the immune system to fight disease.

So, if you don’t already, eat one cup of natural, “active” yogurt each day, to boost your cold-prevention system.

Vitamin C
This vitamin has been studied for many years as a possible way to prevent and treat colds. Unfortunately, researchers have found little to no benefit.

One study found that vitamin C, when taken after a cold starts, did not make a cold shorter, or any less severe.

When it was taken daily, it slightly shorted the duration of the cold, but only by 8 percent in adults, and 14 percent in children.

This means that the average adult who suffers with a cold for 12 days a year, would still suffer for 11 days, if they took a high dose of vitamin C every day throughout the year.

Vitamin C may be useful for individuals who have a low level of this nutrient to begin with, for example, those who are routinely involved in vigorous exercise, such as marathon runners.

However, for most people, eating an orange a day would be just as beneficial.

4. Drink Lots Of Fluids

You need lots of water for the proper functioning of your body, and to flush toxins out, too.

While you can’t flush a cold out of your system, drinking lots of liquids can certainly help you to get over it more quickly.

Choose water mainly, but clear broths and herbal teas can also be beneficial.

I find one of the best natural remedies for a sore throat, is hot water with a slice of lemon and a dessertspoonful of honey.

5. Take Regular Exercise

Research shows that people who exercise regularly are less likely to get a cold.

In fact, they found that staying active almost halved the chances of catching a cold. And, of those who were active, but did get a cold, the infections were less severe.

The main reason for this, is that exercise helps to bolster the immune system, so it can fight bugs off more effectively.

Exercise also gets the heart pumping larger quantities of blood, so you breathe faster, more oxygen is transferred from your lungs to your blood, and you sweat more.

All of this combined, increases your body’s natural bug-killing ability.

On top of all that, exercise helps you to relax and reduces your stress levels. This is significant, because the immune systems is better able to fight against cold viruses when you relax.

6. Use A Sauna

It isn’t entirely clear how regular saunas help to prevent a cold. But, one study found that those who steamed twice a week had half as many colds as those who did not.

This is possibly because cold viruses thrive in dry conditions, and cannot survive at higher temperatures.

Therefore, when you take a sauna, you are inhaling air above 80 degrees, which may be beneficial in preventing a cold.

7. Don’t Smoke

It’s a fact that heavy smokers get more frequent, and more severe colds than non-smokers.

This effect is likely because smoke dries out the nasal passage, and paralyzes the delicate hairs that line the mucous membranes in your nose and lungs.

When these don’t work effectively, cold and flu viruses cannot be swept out of the nasal passages as they normally would, and the germs can enter your body more easily.

Even if you don’t smoke, being around smoke can zap your immune system. I suggest avoiding it at all costs, whenever you possibly can.

What tips do you have to avoid a cold?

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Comments 12

  1. Tom Parker

    Eating a nutrient rich diet is extremely important when it comes to fighting colds and many other health conditions. Most people do not realise that vitamin pills are not as easily absorbed as natural vitamins found in fruits and vegetables. Some multi vitamins also contain dangerously high doses of certain vitamins. Plant based foods are definitely the healthiest choice when it comes to getting your vitamins and minerals and avoiding the common cold.

  2. Katherine

    Hi Melanie! What are your thoughts on vitamin D? I know that research has shown that it boosts the immune system. I started taking it in 2009 and have not been sick since. I’m talking, not so much as a sniffle or cough – nothing! Is it just a coincidence, or do you think there is there really something to this?

    1. Melanie

      I am a huge fan of vitamin D, Katherine. I’ve written about it here: http://www.dietriffic.com/2011/05/04/vitamin-d-deficiency/ and here: http://www.dietriffic.com/2011/06/06/vitamin-d-blood-test/

      One study found that: “When a T cell is exposed to a foreign pathogen, it extends a signaling device or ‘antenna’ known as a vitamin D receptor, with which it searches for vitamin D. This means the T cell must have vitamin D or activation of the cell will cease. If the T cells cannot find enough vitamin D in the blood, they won’t even begin to mobilize.” (source)

      I’m not sure, but the Grassroots program may have some more info on vitamin D and the immune system.

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