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8 natural tips to help prevent a cold

From important work deadlines to big family events or imminent holidays - no one really has time for a cold.

So don't sit idly by. Here are some tips to help keep colds at bay:

1. Wash your hands

There's no mystery about how cold and flu viruses spread. You can inhale tiny droplets that contain the virus when someone coughs, or if someone who's sick sneezes in their hand and then touches the telephone, the keyboard, or a glass. You can pick up the germ when you touch that object, even hours later.

So wash your hands often. If you can't get to a sink, rub them with a hand sanitiser that has alcohol in it.

2. Use a tissue to catch your sneezes and coughs

Do your part to keep germs away from your family and friends. Viruses cling to your bare hands, so try not to use them to muffle your coughs and sneezes.

When you feel one coming, use a tissue, then throw it away. Catch it, bin it, kill it. If you don't have a tissue with you, cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow.

3. Don't touch your face

Cold and flu viruses enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth. Teach your children not to touch their faces, and follow your own advice.

4. Do aerobic exercise regularly

Aerobic exercise is any activity that gets your heart pumping. Back in 2010 US researchers concluded from a short study that moderate exercise can strengthen the immune system, thereby reducing your chances of catching a cough or cold.

Even if further research is needed, we do know that regular physical activity is good for your health.

5. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables

It's possible you may lose your appetite if you have a cold, but do try to stick to your 5-a-day portions of fruit and vegetables if you can. When you do feel like eating again it's not just fruit and veg you need, the NHS recommends a low-fat, high- fibre diet.

6. Don't smoke

Heavy smokers get more severe and frequent colds. Even being around smoke harms the immune system, your body's defence against germs.

Smoke dries out the passages in your nose. It affects your cilia - the delicate hairs that line your nose and airways in your lungs and help sweep away cold and flu viruses. Experts say just one cigarette can stop them from working for as long as 30 to 40 minutes.

7. Cut back on alcohol

Heavy drinking weakens the immune system. It can make you more likely to get infections as well as complications. Alcohol also dehydrates your body.

8. Relax

Your germ-defence system will appreciate it. There's evidence that your immune system revs up when you de-stress.

One way to relax: train yourself to picture an image you find pleasant or calming. Do this for 30 minutes a day for several months.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 10, 2017

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