Healthy Living: 6 Ways to Prevent the Common Cold

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Healthy Living—This is the season of holiday cheer and unfortunately the common cold and flu. Who has time to get sick when we have so much going on during this busy time of year! Most of us have experienced a sore throat, runny nose, and aches and pains sometime during the year. In any given year, approximately half of the United States population will be unlucky and catch a cold or two, and 40 percent will develop influenza, or the flu (Source: Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide).

The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” could really be applied to all health issues. But as far as helping to avoid catching the office or school cold, there are steps that can be taken. Your best advantage is to keep your immune system strong. I know when I have gone through periods of stress in my life; my immune system took a nosedive because I came down with several colds that year.

6 Ways to Prevent the Common Cold

Some steps that just might help you avoid catching a cold this year include:

  • Catch Some Z’s: Yes, it is true – sleep and rest are usually the best remedy for many things! By getting adequate sleep, you are allowing your immune system to recover.
  • Avoid Sugar:  This can be challenging during this time of year with all the yummy pies and goodies lying around your home or at the office. Even “natural” choices such as fruit juices and honey can impair immune functions. No one is able to avoid all sugars, but try to limit the amount you consume during this hectic and sometimes stressful time. Visit the website of Functional Medicine Associates for more functional medicine tips.
  • Drink Water: According to F. Batmanghelidj, M.D., the best times to drink water are: one glass half an hour before taking food such as your breakfast, lunch or dinner – and similar amount two-and-a-half hours after each meal. Two more glasses should be taken around the heaviest meal or before going to bed (Source: Your Body’s Many Cries for Water).
  • Take a Quality Multivitamin/mineral Supplement: There are many products on the market and it can get confusing as to the best choice for you and your family. Personally, I prefer the vitamins that are made from whole foods. You can ask the staff at your local health food store for their recommendations based on your heath conditions and age.
  • Wash Your Hands: Washing your hands helps to avoid spreading infection. I usually carry a hand-sanitizer in my car and purse at all times to spray on when needed.
  • Get Some Exercise: Not only will exercise help the pounds off during this time of delicious meals, but also helps to keep your stress levels down. Try to integrate walking into your busy schedule. According to Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, a 45-minute walk five times a week serves a preventative function by increasing natural killer (NK) cells that fight infection (Source: Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide). The key to exercise I believe is finding something that you truly love to do. You might not like the aches and pains at the beginning of an exercise program, but once you start to see results and enjoy the energy it provides you, you will be hooked!

Here’s to a healthy and cold-free holiday season for you and yours!

What steps do you take to prevent the common cold? How do you keep you and your family healthy during the colder months?


  • Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide.  Burton Goldberg. Second Edition, Celestial Arts.
  • F. Batmanghelidj, M.D., Your Body’s Many Cries for Water. Global Health Solutions, Inc.

Melissa Northway, M.S. in Human Nutrition, is a mom, writer, and her company, Polka Dots Publishing, produces children’s picture book apps. Her first storybook app, Penelope the Purple Pirate, has been chosen as a Top 10 Educational iPad App. You can reach her at:, @melissanorthway, and [email protected].

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