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10 ingenious ways to fight off the sniffles.

1. Warm your nose
Professor Rob Eccles from the Common Cold Research Centre at Cardiff University explains: “One theory why we catch colds and flu more in winter is that our nose is colder which lowers its resistance to infection.”

In case you were wondering, YES this is an actual nose-warmer; scarily enough they are a “thing” (look on etsy for proof).   But in the (pretty likely) case that you’d prefer not to caught dead in one, try the more conservative route of wrapping a scarf around your lower face and nose when in the chilled air.

2. Don’t shake hands
Around 2800BC, if you didn’t shake hands with the person you met, you could be put to death.  This was because hand shaking served a purpose – it was both a sign of respect and it allowed acquaintances to check for hidden weapons.

Now common in office environments and social situations everywhere, new research shows the humble handshake might be a hidden health hazard.  Handshakes transmit up to 10 times more bacteria than other forms of transient greeting, like a fist-bump or a high five – and with studies showing only around 5 percent of us properly wash our hands after visiting the restroom or blowing our nose, it’s a microbe party waiting to happen.

If you don’t think high fives are going to catch on in your workplace, try going the “nod” instead when greeting people or just smile and explain “I won’t shake your hand because I have a bit of a cold”.  Most people will be understanding and even grateful.

3. Wash clothes on a hot cycle
The flu virus can survive a 40°C wash, so if someone in the family is affected, wash their clothes and bedding on a hot wash.  Using a natural antibacterial such as Bosisto’s Tea Tree Oil or Bosisto’s Tea Tree Solution in the wash can also help kill germs.

4. Cut down on sugar
Studies at California’s Loma Linda University found that when volunteers consumed 100g of sugar, immune cells called phagocytes consumed fewer bacteria than normal for up to five hours.   Therefore, cutting back on sugar could give your immune cells a better chance.

5. Get an extra hour’s sleep
Less than seven hours’ sleep a night makes you three times more likely to catch a cold than someone who gets eight hours, research suggests.

Disturbed sleep, or lack of sleep, interferes with the workings of an immunity gene called TLR-9 say experts at Yale University in the U.S.

6. Observe the two-seat rule
According to researchers at the Australian National University in Canberra, your risk of catching flu dramatically increases if you sit within two seats in direction of someone infected.  

If you see someone sniffling or coughing and can move seats, it might be worth doing it.  If you can’t move, open windows.

Research found spending 90 minutes in a car with someone who has flu gives a 99.9 per cent chance of catching the virus.  But the risk falls to 20 percent if you open windows.

7. Don’t pin your hopes on hand sanitiser
Unless it contains 60 to 80 per cent alcohol, hand sanitiser is unlikely to be powerful enough to kill the viruses that cause colds and flu (tip: “Kills 99.9 percent germs” does not necessarily mean “kills viruses”).  

Unfortunately, there’s just no substitute for good old hand washing.  Always wash your hands with soap and water (for minimum 20 seconds) and dry thoroughly, under a blower or with fresh disposable towels – drying is just as important as washing!

8. Rinse your nose out.
95% of colds are caught via the nose.  Saline can help, according to recent trials.  It works by keeping mucous membranes moist, helping them trap and expel viruses more effectively, and also helps prevent germs taking hold in the nasal cavity.  Squirt several times a day for maximum protection.

Try a natural hypertonic saline solution like Bosisto’s Saline Nasal Sprayalso available in eucalyptus, moisturising and calming varieties.

9. Exercise – but not too full on
Gentle or moderate exercise can stimulate the immune system, but forget the ultra marathon – research from Loughborough University found that about 90 minutes of high-intensity exercise causes the release of stress hormones and anti-inflammatory molecules that can depress immunity, leaving you vulnerable to colds and flu.

10. Take vitamin D
Research from the University of Colorado found that low levels of vitamin D can interfere with bacteria-fighting molecules called hCAP that stimulate immune cells.

If you’re deficient (which up to 58% of Australians are – dubbed “The Great Aussie Paradox” by the media) your risk of catching colds and flu raises by at least a third.

For a supplement that’s rich in naturally-derived Vitamin D, plus zinc (another cold-fighting hero) and other vitamins and minerals try extralife Hypol or Hypol Cherry, available at pharmacies. You can’t argue with something that’s been around over 100 years!