Contrary to popular belief, getting cold or going outside in the cold with a wet head isn’t going to give you a cold. Wearing a hat isn’t going to help prevent you from getting a cold either. The only thing that can cause a cold or flu is a cold or flu virus. So if you’re like me and don’t like to wear hats, there it is – justification that you don’t need to wear a hat in the winter.
So why are colds more common when it’s cold? According to The Common Cold Centre at Cardiff:
Colds and flu are definitely seasonal, with more colds in the colder weather but there is no real agreement as to why colds are seasonal. Most textbooks state that there are more colds in cold weather because we tend to crowd indoors in poorly ventilated rooms. This crowding theory has been around for over a hundred years but it does not really make sense, as our cities are just as crowded in summer as winter. A new theory that has been put forward to explain the seasonality of colds and flu, and this theory puts forward the idea that our noses are colder in winter than summer and that cooling of the nose lowers resistance to infection. If the weather is freezing outside we wrap up in winter clothes but we still leave our nose exposed to the freezing air. Every time we breathe in we cool the nasal lining and weaken our local defenses against infection. If this theory is correct then covering our nose with a scarf in cold weather could help prevent colds.
Covering your nose with a scarf might be worth a try – just make sure you wash it frequently! In addition to the scarf and the Natural Remedies listed in our post on Top 12 Natural Cold & Flu Remedies, here is an infographic you can print out and post at your desk as a reminder for the best ways to protect yourself during cold season!
I am completely serious – if you didn’t print the tips, go back and do it! In the article Death by Cubicle, they claim that
The typical office worker’s hands come in contact with 10 million bacteria a day [source:Barrientos]. If you make a telephone call, about 25,127 microbes per square inch are listening (in addition to the person in the next cubicle), making the phone the germiest item on your desk [source:Matthews]. Your keyboard and computer mouse also harbor bacteria, and so does your desktop.
If you need a little more convincing, what follows is the rationale behind these tips.
1. Eat your vegetables and fruits. As we say at Natural Healthy Concepts, proper nutrition is the key to disease prevention and health. The recommended 9 to 15 servings per day will help insure the necessary intake of vitamins and minerals to support your immune system. While there are some nutrients in grains, the best bang for the buck is in fuits and veggies, especially for those watching their waistline!
2. Wash your hands often with warm, soapy water. As mentioned previously, colds and flu are caused by viruses, not bacteria. So using anti-bacterial soap is not effective, not necessary and, is not recommended. In this article, a study found that the triclosan in anti-bacterial products may disrupt cell communication affecting muscle functioning. Not to mention that there is more research indicating the use of triclosan promotes resistant bacteria, much like antibiotics do.
3. Keep your hands away from your face. Mucus membranes in the eyes, nose and lips, are entry sites for viruses. For the fun of it, keep track of how often you touch your face in an hour. One study at University of California Berkeley found the average person touches their face 16 times per hour!
4. Get moving – exercises boosts immune function. Since exercise contributes to general health, it makes sense that it also contributes to immune health. Exercise improves circulation, and when cells and lymph are moving throughout the body as they are supposed to, the immune system will naturally function better.
5. Move away when you hear someone coughing or sneezing! That seems like kind of a no-brainer but it is difficult to train yourself to do it. Be more in-tune with your surroundings and make it a point to avoid people who seem to be ill with a cold or flu.
6. Get plenty of sleep and rest. This may be common sense but think back to how often you were busy and burning the candle at both ends. These are the times you probably ended up with a cold or the flu. Make it a point to get as much sleep as your body needs. Schedule some down time if need be. I guess I should to take my own advice here.
7. Decrease stress and meditate. Easier said than done – I know! However, in a recent study at UW-Madison, “Meditation and exercise were found to reduce the incidence, duration and severity of colds and the flu by about 30 to 60 percent.”
8. Use a Neti-Pot to rinse nasal passages. Irrigating the nasal passages with distilled water and sea salt with a neti-pot or similar device, washes out irritants and excess mucus. Bacteria and viruses can penetrate the nasal lining easier if the nasal lining is not moist, clean and healthy.
9. Diffuse eucalyptus or other essential oils. In this article, Andrea from Aromahead Institute shares the essential oils suggested to diffuse for cold prevention. Eucalyptus globulus, Frankincense and Ravensara. They can also be applied to wrists and neck, in steam inhalation and hot baths.
10. Include warming yang foods and herbs. In his article, Richard Stossel states you can strengthen your energy with, “warming yang foods such as organic meats like turkey, chicken, fish and even small amounts of red meat and butter which are effective at building yang energies. The long burning calories from these animal sources are necessary in colder climates to help the heart keep the body warm. ” There are also herbs such as ginger, ginseng and cayenne and herbal teas that you can drink to increase internal fire energies too.
11. Use our top 12 Natural Seasonal Immune Support Supplements. Some of the supplements in our list might be used daily such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Probiotics, Garlic and Colostrum for immune system support. The others can be used when you feel run down or feel like you’ve been hit by a truck.
Another way to prevent getting a cold or the flu is to become a recluse and avoid going anywhere and avoid all people- not a likely option. Practice these tips and have some healthy immune support measures on hand so if you do come down with a cold, you can beef up your immune system at first sign!