5 Flu Fixes: Sex, Gentle Blowing, Massages and More

first_img Share Tweet Sharing is caring! Cold and flu season is upon us. (Getty Images)With seasonal flu season upon us, the gold standards of flu-prevention such as vigilant hand washing and flu vaccination become increasingly important.In addition to these tried and true techniques, however, research suggests a number of complementary therapies that can help prevent and overcome the cold and flu blues.From listening to good music to beefing up your sex life, there are a number of unexpected ways to boost your immune system and help ward off illness this winter.Gentle Blowing Is the Way to GoA natural reaction to nasal congestion can be to want to “clear it out” with nose-blowing, but hard blowing can only make symptoms worse by pushing virus-laden mucus further into your sinuses, according to doctors.To test this notion, researchers at the University of Virginia conducted CT scans and other measurements while subjects blew their noses, sneezed and coughed. Coughing and sneezing didn’t have much of an effect on nasal cavities, but nose blowing built up enormous pressure, propelling mucus deeper into the sinuses.“Not blowing your nose hard is good advice,” said Dr. Bill Schaffner, chairman of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University. “Pushing the mucus back into the sinuses will lead to more prolonged symptoms. Gentle blowing of the nose, just clearing the front of the nose, seems to work better. If you do it in the shower or under moist, humid conditions when the sinuses are already loosened, even better.”Using nasal decongestants to help drain mucus or rinsing the nasal passages with salt water are other options.Ramp Up the Relaxing TunesListening to relaxing music seems like no-brainer stress-buster, but research shows that 30 minutes of listening to soothing “environmental music” actually boosts the immune system’s production of illness-fighting proteins, immunoglobulin A (IgA). IgA acts as an antibody, binding to pathogens when they first enter the body and calling forth the immune system cells needed to destroy them.In a study from Wilkes University, salivary levels of IgA were significantly higher for test subjects who listened to this type of music when compared to those who listened to the radio or sat in silence for 30 minutes. What is environmental music? It’s often playing in spas and usually intermixes relaxing instrumental music with sounds of nature.Authors cite the ability of music to alter mood and emotional states as a possible explanation for this benefit. A 2003 review of several studies testing this benefit concluded that in general, music listening has a positive impact on IgA and mood.Singing along might also confer a benefit to the immune system: A 2004 study in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that singing in a choir boosted IgA levels in the hour after singing.Vitamin D: Good for More Than Bone Health Though vitamin C has notoriously been the go-to vitamin when a cold is coming on, the evidence supporting the supplementation of vitamin C for colds and flu is inconclusive. Surprisingly, vitamin D, usually known for bolstering bone health and preventing rickets in children, has been shown to reduce the risk of catching colds during flu season.A 2009 study published in Archives of Internal Medicine found that those with low vitamin D levels were 40 percent more likely to report respiratory infections. In those with asthma, low vitamin D levels increased likelihood of respiratory infection five-fold.“There’s several randomized controlled trials demonstrating that vitamin D supplementation, especially in children, reduces the risk of influenza,” says Dr. Greg Plotnikoff, medical director of the Institute for Health and Healing at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.And vitamin D deficiency can be more prevalent than expected. In his study of 10,000 employees in the Atlanta Health Care system in Minneapolis, Plotnikoff found that 63 percent had low levels of vitamin D in their blood. Supplementing with 2000 IU of vitamin D a day would have been enough to bring 99 percent of those employees up to proper vitamin D levels.Plotnikoff also notes that the 400 IUs that current serves as the recommended guideline for daily vitamin D consumption is an outdated, one-size-fits-all recommendation established in the 1940s by a study on children. In his expert opinion, 2000 IU a day during flu season would be the best way to reduce risk of cold and flu.Frequent Romps and a Good Rub Down Rev ImmunityAnother well-known stress buster, sex has also been shown to have immune-boosting effects when had regularly. A study done at Wilkes University found that those who had sex one to two times a week had elevated levels of IgA, while those who abstained or those who had sex more frequently had significantly lower concentrations of the protein in their system.Researchers were puzzled by the fact that having sex three or more times a week did not have the same positive effect on the immune system, but thought the evidence supported moderately frequent sexual activity as a way to boost levels of IgA by as much as 30 percent.Non-sexual touch also confers healthful benefits for a dampened immune system. Though getting a massage is often thought of as a good treatment for sore muscles or a bad back, researcher from the University of Miami School of Medicine finds that regular massage treatments boost immunity as well.Massage increases the activity level and number of the body’s natural “killer cells,” which fight off pathogens, and decreases the amount of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the blood.The Gold Standard — Don’t Leave Hand Washing BehindWhile some of the above tips may be particularly fun ways to ward off illness this flu season, doctors emphasize that these methods should only complement the standard flu-fighting efforts of vaccination, hand washing and dodging contamination.“When it comes to preventing colds and boosting the immune system, it is really important to know what is proven to be effective, what has no proof but isn’t dangerous and what has no proof and might be even harmful,” says Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News Chief Health and Medical editor. “Colds are caused by viruses and most are spread by contaminated hands. So … hand wash, hand wash, hand wash.”As for complementary methods, “as long as you don’t give up on keeping your hands clean and staying home when you are sick, go for it,” he adds.Given that seasonal flu vaccination is now recommended for everyone over the age of six months, Schaffner also urges patients to “run, don’t walk to the local pharmacy for vaccination” if they haven’t already.“Real flu is just now taking off around the country,” he says. “February is usually the flu’s biggest month, so I would remind people that it’s not too late to get vaccinated against influenza.”By COURTNEY HUTCHISON , ABC News Sharecenter_img HealthLifestyle 5 Flu Fixes: Sex, Gentle Blowing, Massages and More by: – November 22, 2012 Share 86 Views   no discussionslast_img read more

Togo coach accuses Adebayor of indiscipline

first_imgNew Togo coach Tom Saintfiet has accused captain Emmanuel Adebayor of a lack of discipline after the Tottenham striker failed to join up with the squad on time ahead of their opening Africa Cup of Nations qualifier next weekend.”I saw him on Wednesday and Friday but he is not at the hotel,” Saintfiet told a news conference in Lome on Friday.The Belgian-born coach was speaking before they departed Togo for their friendly in Ghana on Monday.”He is among the important players for the team but I cannot work with them when they are not in the squad. They should have the same discipline as others.”Togo take on Liberia in Lome on Sunday 14 June in a Group A fixture that marks the start of their qualifying campaign for the 2017 Nations Cup finals.Adebayor’s club Tottenham Hotspur gave him compassionate leave twice last season to return to Africa to deal with a personal family feud that the striker has discussed on social media. Two other key Togo players, goalkeeper Kossi Agassa from French club Stade de Reims and midfielder Floyd Ayite from Bastia, had also not yet joined up with the squad for preparations, Saintfiet added.”To me, discipline is very important in life. And that’s what I am already trying to impregnate in the team.”Discipline is important both for the players, the staff, etc. Discipline is everything to me. All players must be proud to be selected and accept the rules. I want each player to know it’s special to be selected for his country.”I have no problem with any player. Already I do not know everyone yet so I cannot begin to know who is who and who does what.”Since we assembled on Sunday, I’m happy to have those who are there,” he added. Saintfiet was appointed last month as coach of the west African nation.Meanwhile, Adebayor has dismissed speculation that he is planning to leave Tottenham for a move to Turkey.Some media reports had linked Adebayor to a man posing as the player’s agent.But on twitter, Adebayor vehemently denied the claims,  saying he had never heard of the man claiming to be his agent, and had “never discussed any move to Turkey.”He went on to say that he intended to stay at Spurs for another campaign. “I am very happy with Tottenham and look forward to the next season with them.”last_img read more