You already know to wash your hands often, to take vitamins C and D, to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, and to get more sleep to stave off sniffles. But what other ways can you protect yourself from catching a cold this autumn?

Here are 5 ways you may not know to fend off the flu:

  1. Think twice about having that second drink. Alcohol can reduce your immune cells’ ability to fight viruses for up to 24 hours, according to a 2011 BMC Immunology study. Research from the University of Massachusetts Medical School found that alcohol “impairs the anti-viral immune response of two different types of immune cells, monocytes and Type 1 interferon, while also increasing inflammation.” Alcohol also interferes with sleep quality which lessens your defenses to fight flus.
  1. Add protein protection. While no one food will magically reduce colds, research shows that diets that are too low in protein can deplete the immune system. According to Harvard Medical School, eating meals deficient in protein reduce both the numbers and the function of your flu-fighting T cells, macrophages and immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies. One reason may be that these are made of protein. Make sure to get lean protein-rich foods at every meal. 
  1. Steam it out. Inhaling steam from a boiling pot and sweating in a sauna help to remove toxins including cold viruses. Breathing in steam stimulates the cilia – the hair follicles in the nose – to move out invaders more efficiently. You can add eucalyptus and menthol to your steam bath or simply inhale the steam while drinking a cup of herbal tea. Humid air may also be toxic to viruses, according to scientists at Oregon State University. They state, "When humidity is low, influenza virus survival is prolonged and transmission rates go up." 
  1. Increase good germs to fight bad ones. Get plenty of beneficial bacteria in fermented foods and supplements to alleviate cold and flu symptoms. In one study, children who took probiotics twice a day for six months reduced fever by 53%-73%, decreased coughing by 41%-62%, and reduced runny noses by 28%-59%. (Pediatrics, 2009) Fermenting your own foods, like homemade sauerkraut, can provide even greater beneficial bacteria; and it’s easy to do. 
  1. Try fungal fighters. Mushrooms have been used for centuries to boost the immune system. Research from Tufts University, Massachusetts shows a few reasons for this: as a natural defense against invasion, fungi have developed strong antibiotic/antiviral chemicals that are also effective for humans; they help the liver to detoxify; and they improve cytokines made by cells that defend the body against viruses. Try the most potent: Reishi, Cordyceps, and Shiitake.


There are no comments.