Prevent a Cold

There is little more annoying than waking up with a heavy and feeling a tickle in your throat: the advent of another cold. If you are vulnerable to respiratory illnesses (elderly, asthmatic etc.) then an annual flu shot is only prudent. But is there anything that can be done, apart from constantly washing ones hands and steering clear of the coughing colleague in the staff room? Well, yes. The good news is that many colds can be prevented by following these steps.

1. Eat real food: Fresh, preferably organic food provides your body with all the nutrients that it needs to operate efficiently. Cutting out processed foods, chemical-laden food substitutes (sometimes called Frankenfoods) and as much sugar as possible is an excellent way to allow your body to clear itself of toxins and inflammation, keeping your immune system in peak condition for fighting off colds, no matter how many friends, family members or colleagues you are exposed to.

2. Up your intake of fruit and vegetables. Fresh garden greens, tasty fruit and crunchy salads are an excellent way to keep your body in optimum condition. If you are overweight, opt for vegetables rather than fruits – fruits are naturally high in sugar which, while natural and one of the better sugars to be eating, can exacerbate stomach fat and cause cravings for ‘bad’ sugars. Add ginger to your diet in the form of tea, grated up and added to your cooking or even, if you dare, chew on a piece of fresh juicy ginger! It is packed with anti-virals and is great for boosting energy as well as the immune system.

3. Get enough sleep. The importance of getting enough sleep is a factor that is neglected by modern life. Everyone wants to work and play for longer hours and it has become a point of pride to get as little sleep as possible, with people boasting of ‘only’ sleeping for four, five or six hours per night. Sleep is when the body performs much of its repairs and maintenance, ensuring good physical and mental health. Do not be tempted to join the misguided braggarts: get yourself a solid seven, eight or nine hours each and every night. Your health will thank you for it!

4. Avoid extreme temperature swings. Another feature of modern life is to have the air-con set to ‘freezing’ even on mild summer days. Changing from hot to cold and vice versa several times a day is an excellent way to upset ones immune system and encourage a cold to take hold.

5. Take a multi-vitamin supplement. While a good real food diet should provide all the vitamins and nutrients that are needed for good health, taking a high quality supplement does not hurt. Do check and make sure that you are not overdosing on minerals or vitamins: some elements are toxic in high doses, unlike Vitamin C, for example, which passes harmlessly through the system. A combination of vitamins, minerals and probiotics should cover any vitamin deficiencies in the diet.

6. Exercise. Exercising is vital for good health and longevity. While it may seem like an unrewarding and painful labour, it will not be long before you find yourself relishing your exercise and looking forward to your next session! Adults should aim at receiving at least 90 minutes of exercise every week.

7. Get OUT there! Allow yourself and your children to be exposed to a reasonable level of dirt and germs. Wrapping yourself in cotton wool, keeping your home operating room clean and avoiding naturally dirty surroundings (think forest walks, camping trips and nature reserves) can leave your immune system weakened and vulnerable to every germ that comes your way.