The last thing you want before a major championship meet is catching a cold or getting sick. Here are 8 tips that can help prevent the common cold (rhinovirus) or the flu.
In no particular order:
1. Get Outdoors More
This is the “Indoor Weather Theory” and not “Being in the Cold Theory”. First to debunk a myth: You don’t get a cold from a cold weather draft or forgetting your hat and scarf on a winter day. Or being outdoors when you are sweaty.
You get a cold from being indoors all day along with the trapped germs and viruses. In Canada, once November hits, your house is in a lockdown state where the windows are shut tight until March. Heaven forbid wall to wall carpet!
Some people will think this theory is untrue because you still have to work 9 to 5 in an office in the summer. But there’s a difference between being indoors 8 hours a day as opposed to 24. Having open windows will help bring fresh air, if your office tower allows it.
If you must train at an indoor track facility, read this article: Indoor Track Facilities: Hazardous to your Health?
2. Wash Hands Often
Wash hands, or use evaporating hand sanitizer like Purell, after shaking hands or using other people’s phones and computers. If you must have hand contact, don’t rub eyes afterwards. Why?
Because your sweaty hands are the ideal environment for the Rhinovirus, which can easily get transmitted to your eyes, nose and throat.
The human sneeze contains less germs and viruses as compared to hand contact of an infected person.
3. Don’t Share Coffee Cups at the Office
Don’t share coffee cups at the office, even with a dishwasher (Thanks to Tracey O. for this tip). Even after a 160 degree F wash/rinse cycle, ever notice there’s still lipstick on those cups? Bring your own cup or mug, and make sure no one uses it.
4. Increase Antioxidants, Echinacea, Green tea
This is a common tip from health food stores, as it encourages you to buy their products, but there is some merit these foods. Try to eat these food in natural foods, and opposed to supplements. I’ve covered this topic on the blog already.
5. Sleep and Don’t Skip Meals
Don’t put your body in a state of stress. Lacking sleep and/or under-eating will do that to you, as it lowers the immune systems. Eat enough, sleep enough, and in most cases, you’ll be fine.
6. Increase Garlic Intake
I owe this tip to my long time Coach Dennis Barrett. Simply increase your garlic intake, or take garlic pills. You can even find odorless garlic pills if you start losing friends. I’ll take real garlic any day, especially when I have to eat bitter leafy greens (Spinach, Chicory, etc.) and make a quick stir fry with olive oil. That’s a triple bonus (greens, garlic, olive oil), along with the necessary fiber.
Good luck getting your kids to eat that.
7. Avoid Junk Food
Junk foods are what I call “anti-nutrients”, where they take more nutrients away from your body in order to process and digest it. This means avoiding white flour and white sugar and bad fats. (see my Raymond Francis reference)
Whenever you eat or snack, make sure the calories are packed with nutrients, good fats, and antioxidants (see above). This list includes blueberries, walnuts, oranges, etc. See one of my original posts on Top 20 Foods with the Highest Antioxidant Properties
My quick advice is, if it comes in a wrapper or Styrofoam box, DON’T EAT IT.
8. Increase Vitamin D
There are some things to consider with respect to Vitamin D when it comes to reducing the common colds and other illnesses.
- Some people claim it’s the lack of Vitamin D in the winter months that causes sickness and colds. Sunshine stimulates natural Vitamin D production. There is less sun in winter months in northern countries like Canada and Scandinavia. If you can, sunshine in small doses is the best medicine without sunscreen. In rainy Vancouver, “sunny” winter vacation destinations are a must!
- All Vitamin D pills not the same! The synthetic version of Vitamin D is Ergocalciferol or Vitamin D2, and the natural form is Cholecalciferol or Vitamin D3. The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for Vitamin D is about 600 IU per day.
- Watch out for Vitamin D in “fortified foods”, like milk or cereal. In Canada, “fortified milk” adds D2, not D3. In the USA, milk is voluntarily fortified with 100 IU/cup (8 oz or 250mL) whereas in Canada, milk is fortified by law with 35–40 IU/100 mL.
- The flesh of fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are among the best sources of Vitamin D3.. Small amounts of vitamin D are also found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.
- You can supplement your diet with cod liver oil, which is high in Vitamin D (1,360 IU/tablespoon or about 10mL) but also high in Vitamin A as well. So don’t over do it. More is not better.
- Some high-end fish liver oils contain a natural source of Vitamin D without the extra Vitamin A. Just make sure it’s Cholecalciferol or Vitamin D3.
I recommend three online stores for supplements:
More Tips to Prevent the Common Cold?
So there you have it. 8 tips to prevent catching the common cold or flu.
Did I miss any? What other old wives tale (scientifically proven if possible) can you think of?
This article, titled 8 Tips to Prevent the Common Cold (and Getting Sick) was originally published at Speedendurance.com under Nutrition and Supplements