KICK YOUR COLD FASTER
This step-by-step game plan will shorten your misery by at least two days the next time you’re down with a cold.
The yellow spice turmeric contains curcumin, a chemical that can stop a cold virus in its tracks.
DAY 1 You’re starting to feel slightly congested and a little achy.
Pop a probiotic. Taking the healthy bugs daily can shave around two days off your cold and make your symptoms 34 per cent less severe, according to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition. Probiotics help regulate your immune system’s inflammatory response, reducing symptoms like wheezing. Look for the strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG and Bifidobacterium animalis BB-12. Spray away. Start using a saline nasal rinse three times a day. This will flush out the cold virus that is making you sick, as well as compounds like histamines, prostaglandins and leukotrienes that cause sniffling, reports the Journal of Infectious Diseases and Immunity. Suck on zinc. These lozenges shorten cold duration by around three days, new research in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found. Take at least 80mg over the course of a day, starting as soon as you notice symptoms and continuing until you feel better, says lead study author Dr Harri Hemila.
DAY 2 You’re feeling worse but still telling yourself that you’re fine. Sleep in. “When you don’t get enough Z’s, your immune system doesn’t work as efficiently because it’s not getting all the fuel it needs,” says Aric Prather, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Weill Institute for Neurosciences at the University of California, San Francisco. The more you sleep, therefore, the more energy your body has to send to your immune system, and the faster you can bounce back from your cold.
Sweat it out. Head to the gym for a 30- to 60-minute workout. “Most cold viruses can survive only in temperatures around 37 deg C,” says Dr Richard Martin, a family medicine physician at Geisinger Health System. “A fever is your body’s natural way of killing a virus, and working out accomplishes the same thing,” he says. It’s best to exercise before your symptoms have peaked, however. If congestion is making it hard to breathe or if you already feel feverish, skip it. DAY 3 You’re really sick now – stuffy, foggy, wheezy and achy. Try turmeric. This yellow spice contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory chemical that can stop a virus in its tracks, according to research from George Mason University. “All viruses turn on a group of proteins known as NFKB,” says Fatah Kashanchi, the study’s co-author. “If you can shut down NFKB, you can stop the virus or at least slow it down. And curcumin does exactly that.” Take a 1,000mg curcumin supplement twice daily for the duration of your cold.
Press for relief. “Studies have shown that acupuncture and acupressure can affect levels of immune proteins known as interleukins, helping you fight viruses a day or two faster,” says Bill Reddy, a licensed acupuncturist and the director of the Integrative Health Policy