Here are some tips to stay healthy this “sneezin season” and this winter:
- Washing your hands regularly (almost obsessively) and eating healthy is the best way to stay healthy. While many people think that to stay healthy you need to stay indoors out of the cold and stay away from coughing and sneezing people. First, the cold weather doesn’t give you a cold. Actually, being outdoors will probably make you healthier because you will pick up less bacteria and viruses don’t spread as easily. Second, most people get sick from viruses that are spread through the air by people who are already infected and contagious, but don’t yet have symptoms, according to Dr. William Schaffner (former president of the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases). It is often easy to observe people who are already sick and stay away from them; but it is the people who are contagious and don’t show signs of it that will get you!
- When not feeling well, eat in moderation and eat healthy. Dr. William Schaffner (who is also the chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University) states the old adage “Feed a cold, starve a fever” is not accurate. In both cases, one should eat in moderation, eat healthy foods and drink plenty of liquids so you don’t become dehydrated. Milk and dairy products may make phlegm thicker, but it doesn’t increase its production.
- Controlling stress will reduce your chances of getting colds, sick or the flu. As Ronald Glaser, director of the institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University, states “you’ll catch these ills only if you’re exposed to viruses, but if you are stressed and you get infected, you have a greater chance of getting sick and having more severe symptoms.”
- Chicken soup can help relieve cold symptoms. While most experts say there is nothing magical in chicken soup, given it is a hot, steamy liquid, it can help relieve congestion and the TLC factor can help promote healing. Dr. Stephen Rennard (Professor of Medicine, University of Nebraska) sites one study that chicken soup inhibited movements of inflammatory cells. Because most cold symptoms are caused by inflammation rather than viruses; if soup reduces inflammation, then it could make symptoms better. Even though we live in a very modern society, sometimes the old remedies actually do work.