*By Barbara Pronin
You’ve heard it before, but the number one thing you can do to protect against colds or flu is to wash your hands thoroughly and often.
“Lather up with running water and scrub at least 5 times a day,” said Dr. Andrew Pekosz of Johns Hopkins University. “Antibacterial soaps are no better than regular soap, and in a pinch, use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol for a minimum of 20 seconds.”
The doctor suggests six more documented ways to help keep colds and flu at bay:
Try a humidifier – Flu viruses last longer in dry air than in moist air. A humidifier that keeps the humidity level in your home between 40 and 60 percent could be a good investment.
Skip the second drink – Alcohol can impair the ability of your white blood cells to combat viruses for up to 24 hours after you indulge. Keep your imbibing to one drink a day during flu season.
Get more sleep – Studies show that people who sleep seven hours a night or less are more apt to succumb to colds or flu than those who sleep eight hours or more.
Eat the rainbow – The immune-boosting antioxidants in brightly colored fruits and veggies battle the free radicals that can dampen your natural defenses. The brighter the color (think eggplant, red beans and blueberries) the higher the antioxidant count. Green tea is another good ally.
Season with garlic – The cloves contain a sulfuric compound that produces potent antioxidants as it decomposes. If the flavor is too strong for you, try aged-garlic extract capsules, which have no garlicky taste or odor.
Don’t rely on C – Though it’s been touted as a cold fighter, vitamin C has never been proven to fend off a cold or flu – and multiple studies show it does zilch to speed up recovery if you are sick.