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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Feeling a Cold Coming On?

I have not posted very much this week because I was on vacation earlier in the week and then I got sick! I have hardly been able to function the past 3 days with a terrible cold. Part of me feels like I should be exempt from getting sick because of my healthy lifestyle. I eat right, exercise regularly, take my vitamins and eat high antioxidant foods and supplements. Doesn't that mean I should never get sick? I guess I am not as invincible as I thought I was!

The best way to prevent cold and flu is as simple as hand washing. About 80% of contagious diseases are spread by touch. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the simple act of hand washing is the single most important way to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses that cause infection. Even though I feel like I have pretty good hygiene, I have to admit that I don't remember to wash my hands before every snack I eat. Washing your hands before preparing any food is really important.

Other Remedies
  • Zinc: I am a big believer in Zicam, a brand of zinc supplement that has been shown in clinical studies to reduce the severity of cold symptoms as well as possibly reduce how long you have the cold. Zinc is important for fighting off infection as well as repairing tissues in your body. Studies are a bit inconclusive as to whether zinc actually works, and it is recommended that you not take these higher levels of zinc for more than 5 days in a row.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C has been used for many years to help prevent or treat colds. The research on Vitamin C is also inconsistent. I believe in eating foods high in Vitamin C on a regular basis as well as taking a 200 mg or less supplement daily. Doses higher than 2000 mg can cause diarrhea, nausea, and kidney stones. If you think Vitamin C helps you prevent or treat colds, keep taking it as long as you take less than 2000 mg.
  • Echinacea: Echinacea is an herbal remedy that is thought to boost the immune system and reduce severity of colds. Again, studies are mixed with echinacea. Because it is an herbal, avoid echinacea if you are pregnant or lactating and check with your doctor before using it.

Everyone agrees that rest and drinking plenty of fluids are good once you do get sick. I am going to sign off now so I can go relax and put my feet up and drink some decaf hot tea.

Photo courtesy of www.usc.edu
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About the Author


Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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