There's never a good time to get sick, so use these simple science-backed strategies to help keep you from catching whatever's going around -- or minimize your symptoms if it's already too late:
Garlic: Allicin, a substance found in raw garlic (but not cooked), has been linked to fewer and shorter colds. You'll need to eat it though, not wear it around your neck. Get your garlic fix with these super-easy recipes for Mint Pesto, Tzatziki Dip, Cucumber Raita, or Raw Tomato Sauce -- perfect for a quick pasta dinner.
Related: 6 Foods to Fight Garlic Breath
Zinc: Zinc's been shown to shorten the length of a cold and reduce symptoms, but there's a catch . . . well, two catches: First, you have to dose up right at the start of your cold -- within 24 hours. And second, too much zinc can be toxic, so if you're taking a supplement, stick to 15 milligrams a day. If you prefer to eat your minerals, check out these top food sources of zinc.
Related: Zinc: Miracle Mineral for Your Skin?
- Vitamin C: This popular vitamin may help reduce the length of a cold, but only if you take it the right way. Research shows that people who take small doses of C spread throughout the day have significantly shorter colds than those who take it all at once. Think little and often. Here's how much vitamin C you need.
Elderberry: This supplement may be trickier to get hold of, but elderberry's long been used for its antiviral properties, and research suggests it may reduce the length of the flu by 4 days! Follow product instructions for dosage.
Related: Common Cold or Seasonal Flu? Check Your Symptoms
Probiotics: These good-for-your-gut bacteria -- lactobacillus and bifidobacterium -- are also good for your immune system and can shorten a cold by up to 2 days (that's a whole weekend). You'll find these beneficial bacteria in many yogurts and other cultured dairy products, like kefir, but check food labels to be sure (look for "live" or "active" cultures). You can also get probiotic supplements.
And, of course, wash your hands. Use this hand-washing technique to kill germs dead.
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