Each year, the typical adult can expect to contract two or three colds. Skip the annual flu vaccine and you set yourself up for a bout of that as well. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Aside from good hand washing (with soap, for at least 20 seconds), “there’s a lot you can do to drastically cut your risk of getting sick,” says Holly Phillips, MD, a general internist in New York City.
“And even if you do catch a bug, you may be able to cut short the duration of your illness.” Arm yourself with these tips from the experts, and make this cold and flu season your healthiest yet.
Eat yoghurt for breakfast
Scientists found that people who consumed probiotics via supplements or fermented foods (think yogurt, kefir and kimchi) had 12 percent fewer upper respiratory infections.
Crack open a window
Spending the day in a stuffy room with anyone who’s under the weather raises your risk of catching a bug. Letting a little fresh air circulate keeps airborne viral particles on the move, making them harder to pick up, says Dr. Phillips.
Have some mushrooms
People who ate a cooked shiitake mushroom daily for a month showed higher numbers of T cells and less inflammation.
Don’t touch your lips!
You might as well lick a restroom door (ick). “Not touching your face greatly cuts your odds of getting sick,” says Margarita Rohr, MD, an internist at NYU Langone Medical Center.
But that’s easier said than done: The average person puts a hand on her mouth or nose more than three times an hour. To break the habit, try sitting on your hands when they’re idle.
Enjoy your sleep
Take advantage of longer nights and log enough shut-eye. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that subjects who slept for fewer than seven hours were nearly three times as susceptible to colds as people who slept for at least eight hours.
Flush out your nose
Throughout cold season, add this to your nighttime routine: Rinse your nose using a neti pot with boiled (and cooled) salted water, or an over-the-counter nasal irrigator or saline solution. “It will help clear out viral particles you’ve breathed in during the day before they take root in your system,” says Richard Lebowitz, MD, an otolaryngologist.