The ABCs of Cold and Flu Prevention

Take these six smart precautions during cold and flu season and save those vacation days for more fun activities than sniffling and sneezing.

from Conquering Heart Attack and Stroke (Reader's Digest Association Books)

Adopt the French Way

The evidence for hands as a major route for transmitting infection is so strong that scientists at the London School of Hygiene recommend greeting friends the French way, with a peck on the cheek rather than a handshake. Or improvise, according to the situation. The next time someone approaches you with palm outstretched, try an "air kiss" or a manly hug instead.

Blast Your Sponges in the Microwave

Keep your kitchen sponge or cloth germ-free by microwaving it on full power for 2 minutes daily. This kills 99 per cent of micro-organisms. WARNING: Do this only with a damp sponge or cloth – otherwise it’s a fire risk.

See also: Is It Dangerous to Rarely Wash Your Bath Towel?

Call a Friend and Take a Walk

One study showed that post-menopausal women who took regular, moderate exercise – brisk walking for 45 minutes five times a week – had up to a three-fold reduction in the number of colds they suffered compared with women who didn’t exercise.

See also: How Much Exercise Do I Really Need?

Disinfect Household Surfaces Regularly

Door handles, taps, television remote controls and refrigerator doors may all be repositories for germs; other culprits include telephones, computer keyboards, light switches, kitchen surfaces and cleaning cloths.

See also: 8 Places Germs Hide in Your Home

Eat Well, Exercise and Sleep

A healthy diet – with a generous intake of fruit and vegetables – exercise and 7 hours of sleep daily, can make your body less vulnerable to germs.

See also: The Psychology of Getting to Sleep

Fight It With Garlic

In a study involving 146 volunteers at the Garlic Centre in East Sussex, half were given a garlic supplement daily and the other half a placebo. During 90 days over the winter, those taking garlic had a total of 24 colds, compared with 65 among those on placebo. People taking garlic supplements who did catch a cold also had a shorter duration of symptoms and a lower risk of reinfection.

See also: Antisocial Foods You Should Keep Eating

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