Getting a cold is utterly inconvenient. Smack bang in the middle of the season where we’re burning the candle at ALL of its ends (modern life’s candle obviously has at least four ends: work, training, friends, family.. I could go on) you’re struck down with a fuzzy head, snuffly nose and generally feeling like you’ve been hit by a bus. You soldier on and you’re physically present, but you feel and look so crappy you’re neither use nor ornament.
While there’s no fail-safe way of preventing a cold, there’s some measures you can take to reduce the spread of germs and ensure your immune system is firing on all cylinders. The easiest one is to simply wash your hands regularly; you unwittingly touch so many surfaces that others have touched, sneezed or coughed upon, then you go eat and touch your face. It’s not always possible to wash hands as often as we should, which is why I carry a mini antibacterial hand rub for after I’ve been on the tram or been shopping.
I take zinc all year round to balance hormones, aid with muscle repair and for its antioxidants, but it’s especially important in winter as it helps elevate the immune system when attacked by viruses. I make sure I take echinacea through the winter months too; although there are few studies to prove its efficacy (however this one says you’re 65% less likely to catch a cold if you take it) it’s been used for hundreds of years to prevent colds, and I’ve not had a full-blown cold whilst using it – so that’s good enough for me! I’ve been taking Scitec’s Winter-X* supplement as it contains both zinc and echinacea, along with vitamin C. I’ve been taking one a day which is a nice change as echinacea I’ve taken previously needed numerous tablets a day to make up the dosage.
The World Ginger Association should probably employ me (is there a World Ginger Association? And if not, why not?!) for the amount I wax lyrical about ginger. I’ve spoken before about its benefits and also its amazing taste! I love drinking Pukka’s lemon, ginger and manuka honey tea for its soothing taste but it’s also adding to my immune system strengthening. Manuka honey is pretty excellent on its own too due to its antibacterial properties – I can’t afford the real thing at the moment but I feel a little bit is better than nothing! Use a tiny amount in smoothies, with muesli, in tea, or anywhere you’d normally use sugar. Garlic is another immune powerhouse that’s been shown to specifically prevent the common cold – I use it in every single meal. Just chuck two chopped cloves in the pan before everything else.
I first picked the Pine & Honey Balsalm up from Holland & Barrett about a year ago and it has been repurchased quite a few times! I originally bought it when I was absolutely rotten with a cold, and after a few doses and a good kip I was feeling right as rain. Whenever I get those tell-tale warning signs of a cold I take a couple of spoonfuls, and as I said earlier I haven’t had a proper cold in ages. It’s likely to be a mixture of all the above elements so to me it’s worthwhile keeping them all up.
And if all this fails? Remember you are not a superhuman and take some time out! Most of us go to work through a cold so make sure you keep a couple of evenings free to do nothing and go to bed early. If I feel run down I have some very early nights to sleep – dosing up with Ibuprofen if necessary – to allow my body to repair itself. Take time off when you need to and ultimately you will bounce back faster and stronger!