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Is the Common Cold Preventable? Tips for Keeping the Sniffles Away

Posted on by admin | in Housekeeping

As the weather changes, the last thing you want is for you and the kids to be tucked on the couch, rifling through tissues and sniffling away. As temperatures decrease, there are some things you can do to reduce your family’s risk of exposure to bacteria and viruses that lead to the common cold. Prevention is key and with some preparation, those germs will be a thing of the past.

Slow Down

The hustle and bustle of life can leave you and the little ones feeling worn out and exhausted. Packing your schedule without leaving time to relax can increase your risk of catching the common cold, says Denise Baron, integrative wellness coach with Ayurveda for Modern Living. “We must slow down to keep our immune system strong, so this means find time to just chill,” says Baron. “Put down the Blackberry or iPhone and just chill and take a good Epsom salt bath or get a massage.

Ensuring you get enough rest is also crucial to avoid the common cold, says Baron. “Make sure you are getting to bed early and that your children get to sleep at the same time each night.”

According to Dr. Kevin Campbell, North Carolina-based physician, sleep promotes the release of cortisol, which stimulates cells that boost the immune system. “Sleep enhances your body’s ability to fight off infections such as the common cold,” he says. “Getting at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep has been shown in clinical trials to convey a lower risk of cold and flu.”

Minimize Germ Exposure

Germs are everywhere and you can’t avoid them, but you can minimize exposure, says Dr. Samantha Brody, naturopathic physician in Portland, Oregon.

Brody suggests washing hands frequently and keeping your hands away from your nose and face. To ensure the little ones are not overly exposed to germs, it may mean turning down plans with others, too. “Politely turn down play dates when someone else’s kid is drowning in phlegm, coughing or is clearly sick,” says Brody.

Hygiene is especially important when germ season is rampant. Ilyse Schapiro, registered dietitian in Connecticut, recommends leaving the windows open when the weather permits. “Germs love unventilated rooms, so by circulating with fresh air, you help to make the environment less likely for viruses and germs to breed,” she says.

Even though the cooler temperatures may leave you or the kids longing for a hot shower, ending each shower with a burst of cold water may help prevent those sniffles. “The cold will not only remind your body to warm up, but it also helps with immunity, circulation, energy and overall health and well-being,” says Schapiro.

Stock Up On Vitamins and Healthy Foods

One of the best defenses to the common cold is through daily prevention. Schapiro recommends taking a multi vitamin every day. “In the winter, we tend to move less and eat more and the best insurance policy to make sure our bodies are getting what they need is by taking a multivitamin,” she says. “It’s also important to supplement with vitamin D in the winter, as we all tend to spend more time indoors, since it is so important for immunity as well as its function in calcium absorption.

Vitamin E is another important antioxidant that helps to boost your immune system, says Schapiro. “Many popular food sources are rich in Vitamin E such as nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and whole grains, which are available all year round, but recommended intakes are 100 to 400 mg per day,” she says.

Wintertime means cold and flu season, so it is even more important than ever to keep your immune system functioning at its best. “Vitamin C helps to boost the immune system as well as reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by raising good cholesterol, as well as lowering blood pressure,” says Schapiro.

Supplement your diet with healthy foods to stay healthy during high-germ seasons, too. “Oranges and clementines are in season, so why not reach for one instead of the bowl of chips while watching the game?” suggests Schapiro. “These are jam packed with nutrients and fiber and they are also packed with vitamin C.”

Don’t forget your carotenoids when preparing meals. “Beta-carotene, the most well known carotenoid is a major anti-oxidant and it is rich in infection-fighting cells which help to prevent you from getting sick,” says Schapiro. Stock up on carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, romaine lettuce and broccoli to supplement your diet with healthy foods and to prevent the common cold.

“Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and take advantage of what is in season during the winter,” suggests Schapiro. “They are all full of vitamins to keep you healthy all winter long.”

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