Here are my TOP 6 Prevention Tips:
1. Wash your hands wash your hands wash your hands wash your hands wash your hands
Not only to prevent yourself from catching a cold but to prevent others from doing so. The nasty cold virus can hang out on contaminated surfaces for hours, days even weeks after initial contact. So fight germs with soap and water-the strongest cold-fighting medicine there is. If in transit and no sink or H2O available it's great to have a handy travel size hand sanitizer in your bag or pocket.
2. Stop AAAH-CHOOing into your hands
Yes it is very polite to cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze and I am not suggesting you stop; if you did it could lead to serious relationship problems down the road. When you feel a sneeze or cough coming on, use your elbow instead of your hands to cover it, or better yet a tissue if accessible.
3. Stop playing with your face
Many children have the burning need to constantly touch their face, which is a sure fire way to assist the common cold in infecting its unsuspecting prey. The virus can enter the body via the eyes, nose and mouth. Explain this and the importance of washing hands to your children so they'll be more likely to stop. As a bonus to fighting colds, the lecture may even help reduce the fingernail chewing, nose-picking or other face-touching activities that aren't so attractive :-)
4. De-stress on a daily basis
Whether that means yoga, meditation, laughter--relaxation on any level works to boost your immune system. Conversely, excess stress does just the opposite. If you need some tips, please check out Stress Reduction 101.
5. Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate
How much fluid should you be drinking? And when I say fluid, I am referring to water (sure you can splash some lemon or lime juice in there-even better!), not soda, coffee or high-fructose syrup containing beverages. Does beer count as hydration? No. You should be drinking enough fluid to produce urine that is not that concentrated yellow color, but rather closer to clear with a yellow tint.
6. Eat cold-busting foods
Not just in the winter but all year-round! So what are these cold-busting foods we speak of?
Foods that are high in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, zinc are a great place to start. This means loading up on fruits and veggies- especially the really colorful ones at your local market.
For good sources of Vitamins C and A, go for oranges, grapefruits, apples, berries, apricots, peaches, mangoes, spinach, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, carrots to name just a few.
Some great sources of zinc are mushrooms (shiitake and crimini) as well as spinach, chard, asparagus, pumpkin seeds, oats and miso. Alternatively, you can turn to fortified cereals for a good source of zinc-just make sure to read the label.
Garlic is another immune boosting food-research has shown that not only does the "stinking rose" work to prevent catching the common cold but also once afflicted with symptoms, garlic reduces the severity and duration of illness.
And finally, one of my all-time favorite foods, yogurt. Look for yogurt containing probiotics-research has shown that these "friendly bacteria" fight to boost your immune system and in turn prevent infections such as the common cold. An excellent source of Vitamin A and zinc, try some honey and walnuts or fresh berries drizzled over fat-free Greek yogurt for breakfast- what a delicious way to prevent illness! :-)
Of course sometimes, as hard as we try to prevent the common cold, once it finds us, it is here to stay. There are many remedies to alleviate the not so pleasant symptoms we encounter, but that is an entry for a later date.