A Food That Stops Colds?
If you've ever crawled into bed with a box of tissues, you won't sneeze at this possibility of preventing another bout of the common cold.
To help keep those little viral critters from settling into your respiratory system for days on end, you may need some bacteria.
How to Be a Pro
Yep, certain live and active bacterial cultures -- known as "good" bacteria, or probiotics -- may be a secret weapon in cold prevention. People in a study who took a twice-a-day supplement of one particular probiotic strain -- Lactobacillus fermentum -- had less than half the number of sick days as the people who did not supplement. Probiotics may have benefits for people with allergies, too. (Find out what else your nose and sinuses love.)
Where to Get Yours
Because to date there's been little study of L. fermentum, don't expect to find store shelves lined with products containing this particular probiotic strain. But more and more research is showing that probiotics in general are immune-system enhancers. You can find probiotics in yogurt, in some fermented milk or juice products, and in miso, tempeh, and other fermented grain or soybean products -- as well as in supplements. Just one caveat to keep in mind: It may not always be clear which strain you are getting, or how much. Current food-manufacturer labeling leaves a little to be desired on this front.
And here are a few more ways to help give sniffles and sneezes the cold shoulder:
- Be positive. Being a Little Miss Sunshine helps keep you healthy. Here's why.
- Wash your hands.
- Start moving. Staying active is good for your immune system. Here's how long you need to exercise to keep colds away.
Oral administration of the probiotic Lactobacillus fermentum VRI-003 and mucosal immunity in endurance athletes. Cox, A. J. et al., British Journal of Sports Medicine 2008 Feb 13.