Winterize yourself: Avoid catching cold

by Karen Bowen

We don’t really want to think about it, but winter is just around the corner.

While fine-tuning your truck and getting all the maintenance done for winter road conditions that lie ahead, be sure to also fine-tune your body for winter health conditions that we can’t seem to avoid during those cold months.

We have to build up to fight the common cold!

The common cold is a general inflammation of the mucous membranes of the respiratory passages.

Because colds are caused by a variety of viruses, they are highly contagious. Most Americans catch two or three a year.

Anything that makes your body weak makes you more susceptible to catching a cold.

If you’re tired, if you stay out in the cold weather for too long, if you already have an infection or are just getting over one, if you’re around things that you’re allergic to, if you’re breathing in irritating dust or gas…any of these things could weaken your body’s immune system enough so it can’t fight off a cold virus.


Two days after you’ve been around the virus you get any (or all) of these symptoms: sore throat, stuffy nose, watery eyes, headache, fever, chills, muscle aches, and temporary loss of smell and taste.

A common tag-along of the common cold is sinusitis – the inflammation of one or more of the sinus cavities, or passages. Sinusitis usually occurs in the nasal sinuses – pockets of air located in the bones surrounding the eyes and nose.

With sinusitis you get all the cold symptoms, and aches and pain around your eyes.

Although usually the result of a cold, sinusitis can also develop from a sore throat, tonsillitis, or poor mouth hygiene.

Smoking, damp weather, eating spicy foods or drinking alcohol can make sinusitis worse.

So, how do we stop from catching a cold?

A major review of the research on Vitamin C in the treatment and prevention of the common cold showed that taking Vitamin C (at least one gram/day) could prevent you from catching one.

But if you do end up with a cold, Vitamin C helps you get over it faster.

Vitamin C can also help clear a stuffed up, runny nose. Your nose gets stuffed up because of a build up of histamine swelling your nasal passages.

To fix this, some people buy over the counter antihistamines. (Unfortunately, most of them have nasty side effects such as making you drowsy and unfocussed – not ideal for a truck driver!)

But Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine (without the side-effects.) This is a much better choice.

Enough Vitamin D is great for preventing a cold (600 to 625 milligrams every three hours) and is great for treating a cold.

Sucking on zinc lozenges can tone down cold symptoms such as coughing, nasal congestion, headache, and sore throat. (Too bad they taste so bad!)

Because Vitamin A feeds the mucous membranes and respiratory tissues, it is good for treating sinusitis.

Protein helps restore damaged sinus tissues.

Vitamin B 6 helps produce antibodies to fight infection. Getting enough Vitamin F (unsaturated fatty acids) seems to help you catch fewer colds.

If you don’t want to catch a cold this winter, now’s the time to prepare.

You can build your body up now by getting enough sleep and eating a well-balanced diet, paying close attention to the nutrients I listed.

As well, since colds are often caught from others, take care. If you share your truck with others, don’t share their cold.

Get some antibacterial wipes and wipe your truck cab down before you start out.

Whatever you touch needs to be wiped well – not just the steering wheel.

Don’t forget the radio knobs, CB, gearshift, turn signals, door handles…you see where I’m going. Kill the germs before they attack you!

But at the first sign of the sniffles, start drinking more water, eat some extra protein and lots of dark green vegetables and make sure to eat lots of oranges in order to get that Vitamin C.

Take the time to prepare yourself for the winter.

Slow down…you don’t want to catch cold.n

Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at


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