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health fitness healthy weight loss women's health colds flu exercise fitnessWe try to stay healthy by washing our hands, taking our vitamins, keeping away from sick people, etc., but we still manage to come down with an awful cold. Below are 8 proven strategies to beat a cold before it starts:

1. Gargle with water three times a day. “Gargling can help remove mucus that drains from your sinuses down to your throat, which is a spot where bad bugs love to hang out,” explains Ann Kulze, MD, an internist in Charleston, South Carolina. “It also helps moisturize the cells that line the back of your throat; they tend to dry out in the winter, making them less effective in preventing viruses from entering your respiratory tract.”

2.  Use your own pen.  (I always do this, and try to remind my husband to do this as well.  9 times out of 10, he does not listen to me).  At stores, restaurants, the gym, and the doctor’s office, pull out your own pen to sign credit slips and check-in sheets. “During the flu season, pens are passed to dozens of people each day, so they’re a superb carrier of cold viruses,” says Dr. Schachter. “When you handle them, you can transmit the virus to your fingers, and when you touch your face, eyes, or nose, it goes directly into your mucosal tissues.”  GROSS!!!

3.  Exercise!  A study conducted at the University of South Carolina found that people who were the most physically active daily, whether through sports, exercise, or chores such as shoveling snow, were 20 percent to 30 percent less likely to develop colds than couch potatoes were.

4.  Drink Hot Tea.  Researchers discovered that the blood cells in tea drinkers’ immune systems responded five times more efficiently to germs than the blood cells of coffee drinkers. That’s because tea contains a potent class of chemicals called catechins, which may spur your system to fight viruses.  (Okay, I’m drinking 3 cups of hot tea per day, starting NOW!!!)

5  Get a Flu Shot.  Influenza weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds. “Every year, I see women who didn’t get the shot come down with the flu and then suffer cold after cold the rest of the season because their immune system is wiped out,” says Steven Lamm, MD, clinical assistant professor of medicine at New York University in New York City.  (This is a sensitive subject with most of my friends and family — I get a flu shot every year and I have never had the flu.  I say, do what you think is best for yourself and your family).

6.  Don’t Smoke.  It destroys the cilia — little hairlike fibers inside the nose and lungs — which help keep germs out, explains Dr. Lamm.  (Smoking is terrible for your health.  Period.  I have only seen negative health issues from smokers.  Please quit if you do smoke.)

7.  Wash Your Hands – Correctly.  There is a trick to killing germs — and 84 percent of us don’t know it. To wash up correctly, wet your hands, lather the soap and then scrub, including between your fingers and under your nails for 15 seconds. Rinse using lukewarm — not hot — water; dry. (And be sure to turn off the water with a clean paper towel, and do not touch the door handle with your hand when you are leaving the rest room – use another clean paper towel). 

8.  Eat Breakfast.  Cereal eaters are less likely to catch respiratory illnesses and colds than those who skip breakfast, according to studies done at Cardiff University in Wales. One possible explanation: Many breakfast foods are now fortified with micronutrients, which have been linked to a reduced risk of infection, explains study author Andy Smith, PhD, a psychologist. (Article by Hallie Levine Sklar for

In addition to all of the above, I would also suggest getting enough sleep every night, and getting more rest when you are sick so your body can heal better; drinking lots of water every day; keeping sanitizing hand wipes with you in your car so you can wipe down your grocery cart handle, and you can wipe your hands with them after pumping gas, touching door handles, etc.  I think every little attempt helps — it doesn’t hurt.  Germs and viruses can live for several hours on hard surfaces, and I don’t want to be the one to catch someone’s nasty cold or flu if I can help it.  And, that’s my two cents – from Jenn the RN.


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