It’s that time of year again:  when runny noses, coughing, and congestion start dragging us down. The average adult will get 2-4 colds each year. For those who want to avoid colds this season there is good news.  It is easy and extremely effective to reduce your risk by making a few small changes. And if you are unfortunate enough to come down with a cold, there are some simple strategies that reduce the duration of your cold and will get you feeling better in no time.

The key to avoiding colds in the first place is improving your immune system. Since colds are caused by viruses, and not bacteria, a strong immune system should be able to ward off any exposure to a cold virus. The following strategies will help improve your immune system:

  • Decrease your intake of refined sugar. Just 1 teaspoon of sugar suppresses your immune system for 4 hours. Think it is a coincidence that more people get sick during the holiday season when our consumption of sweets increases?
  • Incorporate vitamin D in to your daily routine. The best source is natural sunlight from the sun!
  • Get adequate sleep. You have heard it before but it’s true: there is no better defense to fighting illness than getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Sleep is critical for your body to restore, recover, and fight viral exposure.
  • Include regular exercise in your life. It does not have to be vigorous and lengthy. Find activities you enjoy such as walking, yoga, tennis, dancing, and find the time to enjoy them a few times a week.
  • Seek out hand sanitizers with thyme and cinnamon bark oils for natural protection.  Avoid anti-bacterial sanitizers as they are filled with dangerous chemicals.

If you find yourself already fighting a cold, try the following remedies:

  • Avoid all refined sugars, especially now.
  • Avoid dairy while you are sick since it increases mucus in your system.
  • Taking zinc, echinacea, and/or vitamin C when symptoms first appear can help decrease severity and duration of colds/flus.
  • Get as much sleep as possible.
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