Best ways to avoid a cold and minimise the sniffles when they strike. The experts reveal their stay-healthy secrets...
says Catherine Collins, dietician
We’ve long been told to take vitamin C to ward off a cold but, according to Catherine, it’s vitamin D we should be getting our fill of. ‘Vitamin D enhances your body’s production of a peptide called cathelicidin, which makes a virus more visible to your body’s immune system,’ she says. ‘If I’m ill, I take between 10mg and 25mg of vitamin D per day with my main meal – it’s best absorbed with food.’
Get your vit hit from oily fish. Try these mouthwatering mackerel dishes
says Ian Marber, nutritional therapist (ianmarber.com)
Chicken soup is scientifically proven to help fight off a cold – fact. ‘And packing it with onions, garlic and cayenne pepper will help boost its anti-viral qualities,’ says Ian. Studies show that cayenne relieves a fever by stimulating the body’s sweat glands, while onions and garlic are rich in sulphur, possess strong anti-microbial qualities and contain the compound allicin, which helps decongest a fuzzy head. A health-boosting hat-trick.
Try this warming Oriental soup recipe
says James Wong, botanist (jameswong.co.uk)
‘When I feel like I’m coming down with something, I plan a cold-fighting menu,’ says James. ‘I start with shitake mushrooms on toast because these contain a powerful antibacterial, immune-boosting substance called lentinan. Then I finish off with an echinacea ice lolly – mixing echinacea tincture with fruit juice – it feels more like a treat than a remedy, and is great for soothing a sore throat,’ he says.
Echinacea CAN fight colds - FACT!
says Professor Ronald Eccles, director of Cardiff University’s Common Cold Centre
While cold showers can help to ward off symptoms, once they’re in full swing it’s time to turn up the thermostat. ‘Studies show that cold viruses replicate best at a cool 32°C – that’s five degrees lower than regular body temperature – so, a sauna or a hot bath can stop the virus,’ says Professor Eccles.
Relax with one of these top five detoxing spa treatments
says Dr Brian Cunniffe, Team GB’s senior sports scientist
‘I scale back my training at the first sign of a cold,’ says Dr Cunniffe. ‘Exercise triggers the release of stress hormones, which have an immunosuppressive effect on your body. Ordinarily, this is fine but if you have the start of a cold, working out could exacerbate and/or prolong it.
As a general rule, if your symptoms are above your neck – a runny nose and headache, for example – carry on with a less-intensive regime, but if they’re below – such as body aches, stomach upset or fever – stop and rest,’ he says.
Try a rowing workout for low-impact, fat-burning exercise
says Dr Lily Yu, Traditional Chinese Medicine acupuncturist
‘I drink plenty of amachazuru tea (£5.65 for 20 teabags, chinalifeweb.com),’ says Dr Yu. ‘Known as the “immortality herb,” amachazuru contains more than 20 different amino acids and trace elements that boost the immune system. If you can’t get hold of it, try ginger or cinnamon tea, instead – they’re also very warming and full of antioxidants.’
Check out these top five health-boosting brews
says Philip Weeks, acupuncturist and herbalist (philipweeksclinic.co.uk)
It’s probably the last thing you want to do, but a cold shower can prevent a cold from developing in the first place. ‘Research shows that cold showers can increase your body’s production of white blood cells, which fight infection,’ says Philip. But there’s no need to leave the bathroom resembling a Smurf. ‘Just a quick blast of chilly water at the end of your usual shower will do,’ he says. Even we’re brave enough for that!
Learn the science behind the cold shower treatment
says Dr Chris Steele, TV GP
‘The common cold is just that – common – so trying to fight it is not only futile but can be counterintuitive,’ says Dr Steele. ‘People want to fight colds but really, the more often you have a cold, the more resistant you become. If you start to feel very ill with achy joints, chills and extreme fatigue, chances are you haven’t got a cold at all, so keep an eye on your symptoms and see your GP if they get worse.’
Here's our top 10 alternative cold cures
says Dr Sam Bunting, dermatologist (drsambunting.com)
‘When I’m ill and my appetite is low but my body is craving essential vitamins and minerals, I survive on apple juice blended with vitamin-packed kiwis, and antioxidant-rich blueberries and strawberries whizzed up with a bit of anti-inflammatory flaxseed and goji-berry powder,’ says Dr Bunting.
Add ginger to this tasty apple and cinnamon smoothie
says Shabir Daya, pharmacist at Victoria Health (victoriahealth.com)
‘As soon as I feel a cold coming on, I take up to four times my usual dose of probiotics,’ says Shabir. ‘Given that 85% of our immune system is in our gut, it makes sense.’ A Danish study on the effects of probiotics on cold and flu-like symptoms found that probiotic supplements lowered the duration of colds, fevers and coughs by 48%.
What are probiotics?
says Dr Brian Kaplan, homeopath (drkaplan.co.uk)
‘I use a Neti nasal cleaner (£3.40, from Amazon),’ says Dr Kaplan. ‘It’s a small jug-like contraption that makes it easy to flush the lining of your nose with salt water. It clears the nose of mucus, making it easier to breathe.’
Check out Zest's top five ways to avoid catching a cold
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