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10 ways to avoid catching a cold


We all feel that first sneeze or tickle at the back of the throat that signals the beginning of the cold season. But is there actually anything we can do to prevent ourselves from getting one?
Adults average three to four sniffle bouts a year, with children picking up double this number. Yet scientists are no closer to that elusive goal: a cure for the common cold.
According to Professor Ron Eccles of Cardiff University’s Common Cold Centre, the sheer number of different viruses is the main reason why we keep catching them year after year. But there is a glimmer of hope.
“We’re at a stage now where there’s a huge amount known about these ¬viruses and how they work.
“We hope that by continuing to ¬increase this knowledge we’ll have a breakthrough,” says Prof Eccles.
The good news is that all this research has taught us how colds spread.
Here are 10 simple ways to ¬significantly improve your odds of avoiding the scourge of winter...
1 Go green
The Babraham Institute in ¬Cambridge found that eating plenty of leafy green veg can boost your immune system.
It turns out that cruciferous vegetables – from pak choi to broccoli – contain food chemicals that help ensure white blood cells function at peak performance to fight off infections.
Try: Stir-frying broccoli with a little soy sauce and ginger for a fabulous flu-fighting side dish.
2 Switch C for D
Vitamin C pills used to be the ¬all-important nutrient when it came to busting colds – but not any more.
Australian scientists found that ¬taking the vitamin neither reduced the risk of developing a cold, nor significantly helped relieve symptoms.
“The latest evidence indicates that most of us get enough vitamin C in our diet,” says Prof Eccles.
“So unless your diet is very poor – and I mean on the verge of malnutrition – it’s not worth supplementing it.
“If you’re going to take anything extra this winter, make it vitamin D. We need vitamin D to support our ¬immune ¬system, but levels are much lower in winter as there’s less sun.”
Try: Vitabiotics Ultra-D3 (£4.95 for 96, Waitrose).
3 Sleep more
Getting a decent night’s kip can bolster your defences against colds. An experiment by researchers at Carnegie Mellon ¬University in the US found that the more sleep you get, the better your chances of fighting off respiratory bugs.
People who slept fewer than seven hours a night were nearly three times more likely to come down with colds compared with those who enjoyed eight or more hours of quality shut-eye.
Try: Having an hour without the TV before bed – research shows it can help you drop off more easily.
4 Take a probiotic
Taking a daily dose of friendly bacteria has been found to reduce the duration of a cold by two days.
“Probiotics can also reduce the chance of getting a respiratory infection by nearly 20% in -children and the elderly,” says GP Dr Sarah Brewer. “I give my kids Actimel every day in their lunchbox and they’re rarely ill!”
Try: Actimel, any flavour, (£2.58 for eight, Tesco).
5 Eat breakfast
Cereal eaters are less likely to catch colds than those who skip breakfast, according to studies carried out at Cardiff University.
Researchers think this is because wholegrain cereals are loaded with nutrients we know are important for a healthy immune system, like B vitamins, iron and zinc.
Try: Starting the day with a bowl of porridge topped with berries.
6 Wash your hands
Scientists used to think colds were transmitted when infected people sneezed or coughed.
But we are far more likely to pick up a cold by touching contaminated ¬surfaces such as doorknobs – where bugs can last for 24 hours or more – and then touching our eyes ¬or nose.
“Your single best defence is to wash your hands with soap and water regularly throughout the day,” says Prof Eccles.
“But if you’re out on public transport and can’t do that then medicated hand sanitiser gels are a good idea.”
Try: Handbag-sized Mentholatum Anti-Viral Hand Sanitiser (£3.19 from Boots).
7 Keep your distance!
Because viruses cling to bare fingers, shaking hands is an easy way of catching colds.
Try to wash your hands as soon as is polite or opt for a pat on the back instead.
Kissing, on the other hand, isn’t as bad as you might think. There’s only a small number of harmful bugs on the lips and mouth, so you’re ¬actually not that likely to catch a cold. It’s nasal mucus you have to avoid.
Try: “Sneezing or coughing into the crook of your arm to avoid spreading the virus,” says Dr Sarah Brewer.
8 Get gargling
A Japanese study found that people who gargled with water three times a day – a common practice in the East – had 36% fewer colds than those who didn’t. Although the researchers -admitted they weren’t sure exactly why it worked, they speculated that it could help clear mucus and viruses from the back of the throat.
Try: Gargling with water before ¬brushing your teeth in the morning, after lunch and at night.
9 Spice things up
Certain spices have been found to be beneficial bug fighters, including cayenne pepper, which contains an active ingredient called capsaicin that beats congestion by thinning the mucus in your nasal passages so you can breathe more easily.
Garlic, which contains a ¬chemical called allicin, can zap the cold viruses that lead to infection.
Try: Adding spices to soups and stews for a healthier winter warmer.
10 Give excess booze the boot for good
Before you reach for that “medicinal” whisky, there’s some bad news.
Unfortunately for those keen on the odd night cap, it’s a complete myth that alcohol kills off cold germs.
In reality, it actually suppresses your immune system, leaving you ¬potentially more exposed.
That’s why heavy drinkers are more prone to infections, although the ¬occasional tipple is still fine.
Try: Limiting yourself to one or two drinks a day and have at least two booze-free days per week to give your liver a break.

by Caroline Jones, Daily Mirror 27/10/2011
Read more: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/health-news/2011/10/27/10-ways-to-avoid-catching-a-cold-115875-23517277/#ixzz1cLEAtQYz
 

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