3 Surprising Ways to Fight a Cold
Sometimes size does matter: A new study finds that the shorter your telomeres—snips of proteins and DNA at the ends of your chromosomes—the more susceptible you may be to catching a cold, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
In a recent experiment, researchers measured telomere length in blood samples of 152 healthy people. Then the scientists deliberately tried to infect the volunteers with a common cold virus. The result: The participants with shorter telomeres in their white blood cells were more likely to become ill.
While a portion of your telomere length is genetically determined, you still have the ability to impact their size. “Your lifestyle is absolutely critical in telomere length—it plays a huge role,” says David Gilley, Ph.D., a professor of medical and molecular genetics at Indiana University School of Medicine.
Make time to meditate.
Three months of regular meditation increased levels of telomerase—an enzyme that lengthens telomeres and protects cells—according to a recent University of California study. Start with just 10 minutes a day of sitting quietly, focusing on deep belly-breathing.
Hit the gym.
In a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, scientists found that those who frequently exercise have longer telomeres than individuals who lead sedentary lifestyles. In fact, the research indicated that the exercisers were biologically 10 years younger than those who favored the couch over the gym.
Cigarettes speed up the rate at which telomeres shorten, Gilley says. This isn’t just important in the fight against colds: Scientists have long believed that shrinking telomeres also contribute to the aging process.