Long-time readers might recall that the reason this blog ever got interested in fitness and nutrition was because of a nasty cold I got back in 2007. I started reading books on “superfoods” with the goal of using nutrient density to avoid getting sick.
In the initial years, I thought I made a dent in the problem. My colds were less frequent and less intense. But I never was able to avoid getting colds. In early 2015, I had an awful cold that took about 6 weeks to get rid of. What looked like initial progress on the problem began to look like failure.
In December 2019, I had another cold. Only this time, I had some new ideas to test out. Considering what was coming in the world, the timing was perfect.
Last week I got a cold for the first time in 4 years. This is by far the longest I’ve gone without getting sick in my entire life. Although I have a slight lingering dry cough, I recovered from the majority of the cold in a few days. Here are the changes I made.
#1 Mouth Taping
I started taping my mouth shut at night at the start of 2020. Because I had a dry mouth at night, I suspected I would benefit from taping. I did. Breathing through our noses is beneficial for the immune system. I recall that 25% of the population are mouth breathes.
The book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor makes the case for mouth taping. I’m using the 3m Micropore Surgical Tape.
#2 Understanding HVAC
Maybe it is because I once worked for an HVAC consultancy company that I recognized the importance of airflow in avoiding illness. I avoided public places that were smaller with poor airflow.
I found it maddening that people thought going inside little cafes or restaurants with no open windows for an hour or more believed wearing a mask to and from their table provided protection. Meanwhile, the CDC never posted HVAC airflow recommendations until early 2023.
If there is ever an honest assessment of the last few years, I predict you will likely see that poor HVACs were as big of a risk factor as age and obesity for COVID. Old people and those with comorbidities are the most likely to stay indoors.
#3 Cold Showers
I’ve been doing contrast showers daily since the end of 2019. Wim Hof talks about the immune powers of cold. Is a minute or two of cold water blasts enough to help? Not sure.
#4 Wash Hands
I used to wash my hands when I returned from the gym. Starting in 2020, I extended the habit to every single time I came back home.
My diet did not change after 2019. I was already lean. I still consumed “superfoods” and a nutrient-dense diet. These probably help, but not that much.
I made this Seattle poster with Leonardo
Smart or Lucky?
Although I think my ideas are solid tips for minimizing illnesses, maybe I just got lucky. During the initial two years, people stayed home. Workers were not in offices. Students were not in school. Many businesses were “carry out” only. When people felt sick, they stayed home and rested. Before 2020, people thought nothing of bringing their sniffles into the office or school.
I’d love to think I have made progress on this goal. Time will tell. A new streak begins this week.