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Friday, February 28, 2014

The Cold Hard Truth About Immune Boosters

Funny Seasonal Ecard: At least an exploding nuclear missile would clear out my sinuses.

I hate colds.  They really suck.  Adam is vulnerable to coughs when he gets a cold, but me, I always produce enough mucus to gum up Niagara Falls.  Breathing becomes a chore and I usually end up with a very sore nose from blowing it so much.  Blech!

 Honestly, I would rather get a gastro bug than a cold.  Why?  Because if you are barfing, you have no choice but to stay home in bed, and generally those types of illnesses are very brief.  A cold, however, can last weeks, and although they usually make you feel completely miserable, they aren't serious enough to justify staying in bed for their duration.  Consequently, you have to continue on with your day-to-day responsibilities even though you aren't 100%.  Also, most of us are hit with many more colds than we are most other types of minor infections...especially when you are a parent to little germ-bags!

These days, there are a bajillion health products on the market that claim to prevent or treat the common cold.  Are any of them actually affective, or are they just a waste of money?

According to the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, most vitamins do not offer any help in this area.  There is some evidence that having sufficient vitamin D levels in your blood improves immunity, and taking vitamin C BEFORE you get a cold can lessen the duration of the cold (by about 12 hours), though it won't decrease your chance of catching one.

Zinc doesn't prevent colds either, however, there is some evidence it can also decrease the duration of them.

There isn't much evidence to support Echinacea or other herbs either.  I have to say, I have never found any of these products (oregano oil, etc.) to be even remotely effective.

So what can you do to prevent annoying colds?

  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Get enough sleep
  • Don't worry, be happy.  If you're not happy, seek help
  • Practice healthy stress-management strategies
The Centre for Science in the Public Interest didn't mention probiotics, but there does appear to be some evidence they can help with immunity, so this might be one supplement you could try, especially since they offer so many other benefits.

So save your pennies, look after your physical and mental health as much as possible and forget about all those expensive products making false health claims.

Have a safe and healthy weekend...and don't forget to keep you hands clean, get enough rest and relax!!!