Take the right medicine

For years, I avoided getting a ’flu shot–not quite trusting the vaccine.
But a few years ago, my doctor recommended getting a shot; and it seemed wise to follow his recommendation. After all, I wanted to be protected.
But I’ll never know whether the vaccine worked or not because I’ve fortunately escaped the ’flu both before and after being vaccinated.
I do, however, catch colds occasionally. So I’ve spent a fair amount of time researching techniques for preventing colds—or at least shortening their stay.
Some of the traditional remedies include drinking lots of water, adding a tablespoon of delicious elderberry concentrate to orange juice, taking vitamin C and zinc lozenges, getting plenty of sleep, washing your hands well, and staying away from people.
Interestingly, the same things that shorten colds are recommended to prevent them.
But research in the past few decades has added to our cold and ’flu arsenal. These new preventive tools include laughter, exercise, and being around more people.
There have been many research studies proving that laughter boosts your immune system. One study asked this specific question: Can laughter prevent the common cold and other respiratory infections?
Researchers concluded that laughter, indeed, may give you a temporary immune boost against such illnesses.
So laugh often and heartily!
Studies on exercise show similar results. In one study, 115 sedentary women were divided into two groups–a stretching group and an exercise group.
Researchers found that the women in the stretching group had three times more colds than those in the exercise group.
So push yourself to work up a sweat. And try to exercise at least three-five times a week!
Now, for the most contradictory of the cold prevention advise. We are told to stay away from people in order to stay healthy. Yet, recent research shows our immune systems are enhanced by more people contact.
In a way, both are true. Obviously, the more often you are in social situations, the more germs you are exposed to. But a research project reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) exposes new evidence to the contrary.
An article entitled “Social Ties and Susceptibility to the Common Cold” states that those with more types of social ties are surprisingly less susceptible to common colds.
A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University found that it is not the number of people you are around that makes the difference, but the variety of your social contacts.
The more different groups you relate to (i.e., friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbours, church members, exercise companions, and people you volunteer with), the less likely you are to catch a cold.
In the study, people who had six or more types of relationships every two weeks had the fewest colds. On the other hand, those who had only one-three types of relationships every two weeks were more likely to catch colds.
So, as we enter this year’s cold and ’flu season, reach for your preventive “medicine.” Laugh heartily and often. Exercise regularly. And stay involved in a wide variety of activities that bring you in touch with different groups of people.
Have fun and stay well!
Write Marie Snider at thisside60@cox.net

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