Are you the kind of person who wants to stay healthy?
Cold and flu season is upon us, so here’s a post with some practical tips on how to keep from getting colds.
I used to get a lot of colds, multiple per year. The average adult apparently gets 2-4 of them every year.
But with some changes to my behavior and lifestyle, I was able to dramatically reduce the number of colds I get. In fact, while I do still get sick sometimes, I almost never get an actual common cold.
So while this is not medical advice – for that talk to your doctor – this is what I did to get pretty dramatic and noticeable results.
The Sick Story of How Colds Spread
The first thing to ask is: how do colds actually spread? Though they are common in the winter, cold weather doesn’t cause them. Rather, they are caused by viruses we get from other people.
This site lays out the disgusting details. Colds spread through snot.
A person with a cold gets a runny nose, which he then promptly touches with his hand to stop a drip in progress. Then he touches a door nob, subway railing or other surface and leaves his virus-laden snot all over it. You promptly come along behind him, open that door or touch that surface, then touch your nose or eyes and Boom! – you’ve got a cold.
Four Steps to Avoiding Colds
The key to not get colds then, is to make sure somebody else’s infected mucus doesn’t make into your nose.
I do four things to stop this from happening.
1. Never, ever touch your nose. It’s just that simple. Establish a habit of never touching your nose unless you have a kleenex or other protective covering. (No, silly, your gloves don’t count! They’ve got the same stuff on them). The only way to really do this is to carry some kind of tissue with you at all time.
Breaking the habit of touching your nose is very difficult, but can be done. Theoretically you should do the same with your eyes, but since I haven’t done that I can’t warrant it to you. I’ve been able to mostly avoid colds without doing it.
2. Wash your hands whenever arriving at home or the office. Now some of you know I like bacteria. But I don’t like viruses. So while washing my hands might get rid of some good bacteria, that’s the price I pay to ditch the viruses.
Obviously I could be picking up a cold from surfaces inside my office. And I do wash my hands throughout the day.
But to really create a habit, I rely on two triggering events: my arrival at work (in the morning and after returning from lunch) and my arrival at home.
I just use plain soap, or whatever kind is available.
3. Take Vitamin D-3. Supposedly Vitamin D is good for your immune system. But regardless, as many as 75% of adults and teens are Vitamin D deficient, though there’s a huge debate on the issue. I personally take 5000 IU of Vitamin D-3 per day. You can decide what you should do in consultation with your doctor.
4. Eat an Anti-Inflammation Diet. The steps above are simple, discrete items. This one is more complicated. But the basic idea is to set up your diet and lifestyle to reduce chronic inflammation. The full scope of that is beyond this post, but I will link you over to my post on taking care of your microbiome (the good bacteria in our intestines that we actually need). That’s the foundation of my personal anti-inflammation diet.
I saw many health improvements from this, but the most important one here was a reduction in my chronic allergies. I used to have a bit of a runny nose all the time. Obviously that massively increases the temptation to touch my nose. My allergies aren’t totally gone, but they are much reduced. I’m convinced this right here played a big role in my lack of colds.
You can read more about colds at WebMD.
Enjoy the winter and stay healthy!