The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention generally considers the months of October through the middle of May as official cold and flu season. This means that, as of press date, you still have a three-month health gauntlet to run through. Thankfully, you’re not without your options! Enroll your immune system in martial arts class and discover four natural self-defense techniques to protect yourself from the common cold and flu – and heal yourself faster, should your self-defensive techniques fall short.
1. Run away, literally. New research presented at the Association for Science Education Conference in December 2011 found that regular moderate exercise, such as running or swimming, boosts the immune cells in your body responsible for fighting upper respiratory tract infections, such as the flu, cold and sinusitis. Overall, researchers noted that your infection risks could be cut by approximately 30 percent!
2. Stay hydrated. Dry mucous tissues are more receptive to the cold virus, so stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. Better yet, try eating some watermelon. A single cup of this fruit has 20.5 percent of your vitamin C requirements, and also boasts lots of glutathione — an antioxidant found in the red flesh that may help your immune system fight cold and flu infections.
3. Kill stress to kill germs. Here’s another reason to dislike that boss who screams at you: Physical stress and social stress have both been shown in medical studies to suppress immune functioning as well as reduce the body’s speed at producing antibodies. Practice regular de-stressing exercises, such as meditation, deep breathing, writing in a journal and practicing yoga.
4. Sip and sleep if you end up with a cold or flu despite your best efforts. Getting lots of rest provides your body with time to repair and recuperate. Meanwhile, sipping chicken soup has been shown in several major studies to potentially help fight the cold and flu by affecting the way the body transports infection-fighting cells. For vegetarians and vegans out there, vegetable broth’s salt, heat and liquids can still help reduce some of the symptoms of sickness.