NEW YORK (MainStreet) — With each winter comes the fear of getting sick. Whether it’s the common cold, the flu, or now possibly even Ebola, the general population gets a heightened fear of germs as winter approaches. However, while hand-washing is known to prevent the spread of germs, how effective are things like drinking orange juice and exercising regularly? MainStreet caught up with a few health professionals to bust the myths and find the facts to keep your body and wallet healthy during cold season.
1. Stress-Relieving Practices: Fact!
2. Guzzling Fruit Juices: Myth!
3. Drinking Tea: Fact!
4. Ginseng, Zinc, and Echinacea: Fact, fact, fact!
Before you run off to the supermarket for any old can of condensed chicken noodle, the studies that support the benefits of chicken soup will explain that the perks are from real chicken broth made from whole chickens. According to Dr. Grossan, “chicken broth contains compounds that help break up congestion and ease the flow of nasal secretions.” He continues to add that “[chicken broth] is also thought to inhibit certain white blood cells that trigger the inflammatory response that causes sore throats and the production of phlegm.” The doctor also explains that chicken soup contains l-cysteine, which is an amino acid that has been shown to thin mucus in the lungs, assisting greatly in the healing process, especially in influenza patients. The psychoimmune, or psychoneuroimmune, response received from consuming chicken soup is also a benefit, as the comfort food serves to stimulate good chemistry in the brain through memories of being taken care of by a mother or mother-figure as a child.
5. Chicken Soup: Fact!
In this case, exercise to prevent colds and flu can go both ways. While moderate, steady exercise improves overall health and has been shown to boost the immune system, too much exercise can do the exact opposite. Dr. Marotta keys in on this topic by explaining that too much exercise has the power to decrease immune function, especially if the person doing the exercising doesn’t give himself enough time to rest and heal. According to the same study, researcher Michael Flynn at Purdue University found that the best way to use exercise to reap health benefits and boost the immune system is to work out three or four times a week, for approximately thirty minutes each time. It was also found that athletes who perform grueling endurance training over a long period of time have double the likelihood of getting sick compared to those doing moderate exercise.
6. Exercise: Both!
7. Sleep: Fact!
8. “Starving” the Cold: Myth!
9. Vitamin D3: Fact!
While there have been many studies citing the benefits of Vitamin D(3), primarily with improvement with cognitive behavior, autoimmunity and bone health, it has also been shown to also assist with fighting the flu. Ann Musico, holistic health coach at Three Dimensional Vitality, explains that supplementing with Vitamin D(3) is quite promising in the way of preventing the flu. She supports her opinion by citing a study that was performed in 2008-2009 and published on PubMed. A randomized, placebo-controlled study was performed on schoolchildren. and it concluded with evidence that Vitamin D(3) supplementation in the winter months may reduce the incidence of the flu.
--Written by Ciara Larkin for MainStreet