4 Easy Lifestyle Tweaks to Get Over a Cold
“Happiness is not the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them.”
We sit shoulder to shoulder during holiday performances, we stay in lines waiting to have a photo taken with Santa and mingle with acquaintances at parties. And then we wonder why this is the season when we get colds and flu, which are spread by a virus that hops on surfaces such as our hands and thrives for up to three hours.
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, adults get two to four colds and the average child as many as 12 during a typical year. So it looks like we already know how to catch a cold.
Now, here are the things you need to learn to drop one fast:
Lifestyle Tweak #1: Start your day with the antiviral breakfast.
Recent research shows that the right morning meal can help quash the cold virus. In a recent study from the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, researchers analyzed the impact that consuming a 1,200-calorie breakfast has on a man’s immune system, versus eating nothing at all.
They found that eating big and eating early increased blood levels of gamma interferon, a natural antiviral agent, by 450%. And going hungry actually caused a 17% decrease.
So, aim for 1,200 every morning until your cold symptoms disappear. Not, however, McDonald’s calories. Hit your big quota with oatmeal, bananas, eggs, some bacon, peanut butter and jam, and some orange juice.
Also, make sure to add a cup of green tea, which contains EGCG, a compound that Canadian researchers have found stops the cold bug replicating.
Lifestyle Tweak #2: Get your head down and get some quality sleep.
According to psychiatrist and sleep researcher Michael Irwin, if the amount of sleep you’re getting decreases by 40% or more, the effectiveness of your immune system will decline by 50%.
So, for the immune system to operate at full strength, you’ll have to sleep a good eight, the amount shown to produce the highest levels of ‘natural killer cells’, which attack viruses.
Also, during your waking hours at home, wear some light clothing – like some shorts and a T-shirt. Japanese researchers found that this adjusts a person’s core body temperature enough to improve sleep quality and boost your immune response.
Lifestyle Tweak #3: Work out your white blood cells.
In a recent University of Massachusetts study of 547 people, researchers found that the most physically active people had 25% fewer upper-respiratory infections over the course of a year than did the couch potatoes.
Researchers believe that exercise may strengthen immune function, in part by increasing the body’s production of white blood cells. Charles E. Matthews, Ph.D., the lead study author, said: “If you exercise, you should see two benefits: One, you’ll have a reduced risk of catching a cold, and two, if you’re unlucky enough to get a cold, you should have it for a shorter period of time.”
So, if you want to hit back hard, do what Matthews’s study subjects did: Aim for 60 to 90 minutes of moderate activity daily, with walking counting just as much as weight training.
Lifestyle Tweak #4: Strike back with some stress.
In a recent study from Ohio State University, researchers had 34 men either take a 12-minute memory test or watch a 12-minute video of surgical procedures. They found that the test-takers’ levels of SIgA, a key immune-system protein, shot up dramatically and the SIgA levels of the guys who saw the gore went down.
So, expose yourself to short-term stress, the kind you have some control over, and you’ll supercharge your immune system.
“Stress response is a normal protective coping mechanism,” says Jos A. Bosch, Ph.D., the study author. “The body prepares itself for potential harm and activates its immune resources.”
To use stress as medicine, Bosch suggests taking on a small extra project at work or helping a coworker with a task. “It shouldn’t take longer than a day or half a day,” he says. “If the stress response is continuous, then the immune system will be suppressed.”
What’s even better is that Bosch found that video game’s stress can also boost SIgA levels.
So, take care of yourself today. And never expect to be ill. Just let colds and flu be things of the past.
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