Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Everything you need to know about not getting a cold

In general living healthy; healthy eating, regular exercise, and good quality sleep, can..

Reduce the number of colds per year by 40%

Reduce the intensity of symptoms by 40%

Reduce the duration of a cold by 40%

The number one transmission of the cold virus into the body is touching your eye with your finger after touching a surface with a cold virus on it.

#2 is touching your nose

#3 is touching your mouth

A cold virus can stay alive on a surface such as a door knob 24 hours.

You can also inhale a cold virus.

When a person with a cold speaks they spray an approximate 1 meter (3 foot) cloud of water vapour that contains aerated cold virus.  You can't see it or feel it, but you can breath it in and introduce the cold virus to your body.

Here's a nice thought, especially for the germaphobes out there..

If a person with a cold coughs or sneezes in a hallway, they'll leave behind a cloud of aerated cold virus that lasts for a minute or so.  You could walk into an otherwise empty hallway, save for the virus cloud, and breath it in.  You now have a cold.

Or do you?

Maybe, your timing has to be right and if you do suck in a bit of rhino-virus (no relation to me), whether you develop symptoms or not depends on how robust your immune system is.

People who "don't get colds" actually do get colds.  Their immune systems are strong enough that the cold virus is defeated before cold symptoms arise.

The healthy living strategy does not prevent cold viruses from entering your body, rather living healthy makes you into a cold virus killer.  A ninja killer, because you make antibodies swiftly and silently in the background without you knowing that you're waging a virucidal war inside your body.

The hygiene strategy does reduce the chance of "catching" a cold. Washing hands, avoiding touching your face, and staying away from others when infected prevent cold virus transmission.

Once you have a cold there is little you can do to change the course of the cold.  Taking vitamin C, or any vitamin, drinking hot lemon juice, changing your diet, doing a magic dance that appeals to the cold gods, or doing nothing, are each likely to yield the same result: your cold will end within 5 to 10 days.

There is conflicting evidence for whether or not the popular supplement echinacea works for cold prevention, but one thing is for sure; those who sell echinacea swear it works.

Of course the longer you wait to implement any folklore cold remedy the greater the chance your cold will end sooner, as by that time your immune system would have defeated the cold anyway.

High stress levels are known to suppress the immune system so working on keeping stress levels low will help protect you from developing colds.  Regular exercise and good sleep are two of the most potent stress reducers.

For the record I haven't had a cold in over 4 years.  Whoops.. I mean I haven't had cold symptoms in over 4 years.. I've most likely had several colds but my antibodies went Chuck Norris on the evil cold virus before symptoms developed.  I used to get two colds a year; one in the early winter and one around spring time.  They lasted a few days to a week.

Four years ago I tuned up my nutrition using making sure that I met 100% of all my nutrient needs from food every day (no supplements other than vitamin D).  I also put more emphasis on getting to bed at about the same time most nights and getting good quality sleep.  My exercise was already there, although I did reduce the amount of times I did prolonged high intensity training.

Is it a coincidence that I have had no colds since I made these healthy living changes?  I don't think so.  I read the research, implemented the recommendations, and got the result.  Will I be cold-free forever?  I don't have that expectation but I can vouch for what our white-coat researchers keep telling us to do.

Since it's unlikely that we'll be able to completely avoid being exposed to cold viruses the best strategy is bolstering your immune system through healthy living so when you are exposed your inner ninja's can cut down viral invaders before you feel symptoms.  I'm not saying we should give up on the hand washing thing, we shouldn't, but at some point a cold virus is going to get in us unless we live in bubble wrap, so it's best to be ready.

One last thing.. being out in cold weather does not cause colds, only transmission of cold virus into the body causes colds.

A randomized controlled trial of the effect of flui... [Am J Med. 1999] - PubMed - NCBI

Echinacea purpurea for prevention of experim... [Clin Infect Dis. 2004] - PubMed - NCBI

Echinacea in the prevention of induced rhinovirus ... [Clin Ther. 2006] - PubMed - NCBI

Treatment of the common cold with unrefined e... [Ann Intern Med. 2002] - PubMed - NCBI

Ineffectiveness of echinacea for... [Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2000] - PubMed - NCBI

Vitamin C for preventing and trea... [Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004] - PubMed - NCBI

Upper respiratory tract infection is reduced in physically fit and active adults -- Nieman et al. -- British Journal of Sports Medicine