I happen to fall into a large group of people who take ill once the weather starts to change and it gets cold outside. It has happened for as long as I can remember, and generally my symptoms are: coughing, head cold, runny nose etc. It’s very similar to what the average person experiences when they have a flu. Over the past few years as I’ve grown and understood myself better however, I’ve found that while I haven’t completely knocked this seasonal illness, I’ve managed to cut the bouts down and shorten the duration whenever I do have them. I’ve learned to do things a bit differently when that time of the year (usually between October and March) approaches and it’s been very effective for me. Here are some things I do and encourage you to try:

1. Drink a lot of water. Believe it or not, your Doctor was right when she told you to try drinking 2L of water daily. It’s good for your body. Water makes up 60% of your body weight and every system in your body depends on it. It flushes out toxins from vital organs, carries nutrients to your cells and provides a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues. The body loses water easily through breath, perspiration, urine and physical activities. Lack of it leads to dehydration and even a mild case of it knocks your energy levels leaving you more susceptible to taking ill.

2. Eat well. A balanced diet goes a long way in keeping your body functioning at its best level. Research has found positive links between immune function and certain foods, so eating a lot of those immune-building foods could be helpful. For example, Garlic has been shown to boost immunity and increase resistance to infection and stress, cheese and other dairy products contain conjugated linoleic acid, a natural component of dairy fat which has boosted immune response in several trials, Yogurt contains probiotics, beneficial bacterial with immune boosting benefits etc.

3. Exercise well and Keep in good physical shape. It’s general knowledge that exercise often prevents oncoming illness, one study has shown that exercise is linked with nearly 30% reduction in upper respiratory tract infections. During a routine exercise session, endorphins are released into your body, causing relief from certain illnesses and several psychological conditions like depression and anxiety. I advise to join an indoor sports league to help you stay active at least 2 times a week. I personally play soccer 3 times a week, I prefer team sports and encourage it for you as well, it lets other people hold you accountable.

4. Don’t smoke. This must have popped up on your screen several times and for good reason, it is bad for you. Smoking causes your immune systems to weaken and leave you more susceptible to viruses.

5. Wash your hands regularly. This is a no-brainer, viruses are easy to transfer and so when you lead a life that involves a lot of human interaction, your chance of contracting a cold or flu remains high. Just have a look at some of these stats from a recent survey:

  • Only 85 percent of respondents said they washed their hands after going to the bathroom, down from 92 percent in 2006.
  • 46 percent said they wash their hands 15 seconds or less. Fifteen to 20 seconds of hand washing with soap is recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the SDA.
  • 39 percent of respondents said they seldom or never wash their hands after coughing or sneezing, compared to 36 percent in 2006.
  • 35 percent said they don’t wash their hands before eating lunch, compared to 31 percent in 2006.
  • 37 percent wash their hands fewer than seven times on an average day.
  • Only 56 percent of respondents knew that hand washing is the most effective way to prevent colds.

Imagine how quickly the bacteria and viruses can be passed on from one person to the next. Buy hand soap and keep a hand sanitizer close by.

6. Sleep well. Getting a good night sleep has been shown to prevent common cold. In a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers studied a number of participant’s sleep pattern. Each person kept track of their sleeping habit for 14 days noting how long and how well they slept the previous night as well as whether they felt rested. After 14 days, the participants were quarantined, given nasal drops containing a cold-causing virus (rhinovirus), and monitored for five days for signs of a common cold. The results showed that those who slept an average of less than seven hours per night were nearly three times more likely to develop a common cold than those who reported eight or more hours per night in the weeks leading up to the experiment.

Have any other tips you personally follow to keep cold and flu away? Share with us below.

- Tolu.