Nutrition: Keeping Colds At Bay

By Ken Babal, C.N.

Published in DRUM! Magazines February 2009 Issue

An illness is the body’s way of telling us we need to change our behavior, whether it’s getting more rest, eating better, or managing stress. Viruses and bacteria constantly challenge our immune systems, but only take hold when our energy and resistance is low. The result is respiratory distress: a cold, flu, sore throat or cough. For drummers, a serious bout with a cold or flu might have you looking for a sub for an important gig.

Ninety percent of us have a cold every year and over half of us have several with winter being the time when they are most prevalent. Flu viruses are most active from the beginning of December through the end of March and are at their peak during December through mid-January. If you experience one or two colds per year or they last more than four or five days, you have a weakened immune system.

Many common nutrients found in a multiple vitamin-mineral supplement will help strengthen immunity. You’ve got to remember to take it routinely, though. Vitamin C, for example, is critical to immune function because it enhances white blood cells. Infection rapidly depletes the normal high concentration of vitamin C in white blood cells, and a relative deficiency may result if it is not replenished regularly. Although vitamin C appears to have only a small effect in preventing the common cold, large amounts (1-8 grams) taken at the onset of a cold may shorten its duration by up to 23 percent. It’s also a natural antihistamine.