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June 9, 2011 at 12:40 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

13 Natural Ways to Prevent a Cold

By Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD More Blogs by This Author

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There is no cure for a cold or the flu, so it is best to focus on prevention.   The best way to help prevent getting sick is by staying healthy. Here are some great tips to help minimize your chances of catching something:

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1. Get Your Fruits and Vegetables. 

Eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. This will maximize dietary vitamins and antioxidants.  Fruits and vegetables are high in phytochemicals, which can help your body fight disease.  This can help keep you and your immune system healthy.

2. Get Regular Exercise. 

Helps your body in many ways including boosting your immune system and helping prevent disease.

3. Maintain a Healthy Weight.

Being over or under weight reduces your body’s ability to fight off disease.

4. Don’t Smoke.

There is clear evidence that smoking increases your chances of getting colds, the flu, and pneumonia.  Children of smokers are more likely to develop asthma, ear infections, pneumonia, colds, and the flu.

5. Drink Plenty of Fluids.

Dehydration makes it harder to for your body to fight infection, so drinking plenty of water pays off.

6. Wash Your Hands. 

Colds and the flu are caused by direct contact with infected water droplets.  If someone coughs into their hand and then touches something you touch, you can get infected.

7. Stop Touching Your Face. 

Cold and flu viruses enter the body through the mucus membranes (mouth, nose, eyes), keeping your hands away from your mouth can help keep the viruses out of your body.

8. Take a Probiotic Supplement.

Take a broad spectrum Lactobacillus probiotic every day. One study demonstrated that daily probiotic use reduced the number of colds in children.  Other studies have shown that eating a daily yogurt with live cultures (probiotics) can reduce the number of colds people catch by 25%.

9. Take a Vitamin C Supplement.

One study showed that taking 1 gram of Vitamin C daily reduced the chances of getting colds associated with exercising in cold weather.

10. Get your Vitamin D.

Low vitamin D levels weaken the immune system and increase the chances of getting colds and the flu.  Vitamin D is made by sunlight hitting the skin, so if you do not live in a sunny climate there is a good chance you have good vitamin D levels.  I recommend taking 1000 units of vitamin D every day, if you are not regularly in the sun.

11. Manage Stress in a Healthy Way

Chronic stress increases the bodies cortisol levels, which weakens the immune system.  You can read more about how chronic stress can affect your health in one of my earlier posts.

12. Get Proper Sleep.

Sleep helps regulate cortisol levels, which helps keep you healthy.   One study demonstrated that people who get less than 7 hours of sleep a night are 3 times more likely to catch a cold.

13. Get a Flu Shot.

There is an abundance of research that shows getting a flu shot reduces the chances of getting the flu, and reduces hospitalizations from the flu.  However, don’t be tricked into thinking you can ignore the above advice if you take the flu shot. It is important to remember that the flu shot only protects against the influenza virus, it does not protect against colds, sinus infections or diarrhea illnesses.


Stay Healthy,
Dr. Jeff M.D.

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