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Every time we approach the cold season, we get exposed to a new set of germs carrying a nice-looking flu or a great-feeling cold. No matter how many times we wash our hands, that little fellow always seems to sneak through our immune system, and throw an unwanted party in our honor. I did a research on the dirtiest places in people’s offices, and was intrigued by some of the results. Apparently, these spots stood at the top of the incriminating list:

 Handles of the sinks in the restrooms

Computer keyboards and mice

Microwave and refrigerator doors handles


Water fountain buttons

Strengthening our immune system is paramount to prevent - or at least limit - the frequency of colds, and can be done in many ways. Let’s see a few.


Whether we are on a treadmill, outside, on an elliptical machine or in a swimming pool, aerobic training helps our system prevent infections, and/or fight against them. Our heart and lungs become more efficient, and so does everything between them, making our body much resistant to colds. If we regularly perform cardiovascular exercise we can not only reduce the frequency of incoming colds, but also shorten the duration, should we catch one.


- beta-carotene & other carotenoids: found in apricots, asparagus, beets,broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip andcollard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach,sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, watermelon.

- vitamin C: found in berries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cantaloupe,cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, orange,papaya, red, green or yellow peppers, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries,tomatoes.

- vitamin E: found in broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens,mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, sunflower seeds.

- zinc: found in oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood,whole grains, fortified cereals, dairy products.

- selenium: found in Brazil nuts, tuna, beef, poultry and fortifiedbreads, other grain products.

- other antioxidantsprunes,apples, raisins, all berries, plums, red grapes, onions, eggplant, beans.


If we sleep 40 percent less than what we usually do – like 5 hours instead of the usual 8 hours – the efficiency of our immune response will decrease by 50 percent. Obviously, if we sleep even less, it will be even worse. In order for our immune system to go back to normal, we will need to sleep 8 hours straight.


The more stressed we are, the easier target we will be to colds. It’s during trying times that we need to pay special attention to ourselves, because that’s exactly when we are more susceptible to infections. Any strategy to decrease our stress level will automatically increase our immune response. Some people practice deep breathing and meditation, while others listen to music or enjoy the company of a pet. Anything that works for you will decrease your chances of getting sick.


It’s not super-clear why, but alcohol consumption above “social” level has been proven to dramatically slow down our immune system. A glass of wine here and there won’t have major effects, but when those start adding up, we will be less protected against colds and infections.

The suggestions above are only a few examples of how we can defend our systems against external agents carrying sickness and disease. Ultimately, it's how we treat ourselves that will matter the most. Common sense teaches us that even taking good care of our bodies and minds won't annihilate the chance of getting sick sick. However, if we get a cold once a year instead of 3 or 4 times, it will still be a huge success... for us and everybody around.

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Giacomo Cresti

Senior Editor Annex Press

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About the author


As Annex Press Senior Editor, I'm an educator writing about 3 main topics: fitness, digital literacy and women's rights. I've been traveling extensively throughout the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe, especially in underdeveloped countries where women are considered second class citizens, and deprived of their most basic rights. Many of…

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