Photo: Aaron Black-Schmidt

Four Ways to Avoid a Cold This Winter

Christmas might be over and New Year's in the rear view mirror but 'tis still the season…to get a cold. People in the US catch a staggering one billion colds a year, which curbs our productivity, hinders our social lives and–if we're lucky enough to live near unfrozen water–keeps us off our boards. Here are four tips to cut your chance of catching a cold:

1) Get Your Tea On

One of the most tried and true immunity boosters out there is green tea. But don't just idly throw a tea bag in a mug of hot water. Adding lemon, lime or any other citrus juice to your tea has been found to increase the uptake of antioxidant catechins fivefold. Those crafy tea-drinking Brits are also onto something. While it might take a little getting used to, adding milk to your next "cuppa" also boosts catechin retention. Plus, hot tea just seems to taste better when it's freezing outside, doesn't it?

2) Have a Berry Happy New Year

Almost any berry is going to give you a ton of "good for you" phytochemicals, some fiber and a bevy of vitamins and minerals. But when it comes to stopping the sniffles in their tracks, two should rise to the top of your grocery list: elderberries and blackcurrants. The anthocyanins that give these fruits their rich color also enhance your body's immune response and reduce inflammation. One study found that the kind found in blackcurrants also improve night vision by assisting with the regeneration of certain proteins. As fresh blackcurrants are hard to come by and expensive if you can find them, try adding dry currants to oatmeal or getting a juice with no added sugar, like this one from R.W. Knudsen.

3) Take a Deep Breath

Too many of us let the chaos of our hectic lifestyles put us in a state of chronic stress in which we take irregular, shallow breaths that make us even tighter and more anxious. This nervous system fatigue and inflammation can then compromise your immune system, making you more susceptible to all manner of illnesses. The solution? Become conscious of how you're breathing and if you're stuck in a bad pattern, take a few minutes to inhale slowly and exhale even more slowly, several minutes a day. You'll not only feel calmer, but will likely boost your immunity, too. If you need more guidance, check out the Wim Hof method. Good enough for Laird, good enough for you!

4) Stop Skimping on Sleep

One of the reasons that we tend to get sick at this time of year is that we dial up the intensity with all those family gatherings, Christmas parties and red-eye flights across the country. To make room for everything we want to cram in, we not only skimp on physical activity, but also reduce the amount and quality of our sleep. As a result, we end up tired out, worn down and less able to combat infections. The fix is simple: start winding down sooner and going to bed earlier, preferably at a consistent time each night. Also avoid anything that can compromise sleep quality, including blue light exposure from electronic devices, evening caffeine and a too-toasty bedroom (studies show that 65 degrees or below is optimal).


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