What you can do to get safely through the cold and flu season.

By Real Simple
Updated October 20, 2009
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How true is the claim?Maybe a bit. Two years ago, scientists divided 180 people into two groups. They chilled one group's feet in cold water, then noted who developed cold symptoms. Those whose feet were dunked were twice as likely to get sick. The theory is that the frigid temperature may have restricted circulation, decreasing germ-fighting immune cells, and that a similar thing could happen with a wet head. Still, this is only one small study, with limited results. Why it gets repeated: Probably because colds, which are caused by viruses, circulate more in the winter, when people are cooped up and in closer contact, and wet hair seems to be a likely cause. Bottom line: It's OK to wash and go. Just wash your hands frequently and get vaccinated before the flu season.
Burcu Avsar

By now you know that frequently washing your hands with good old soap for 20 to 25 seconds is the first line of defense against germs that lead to illness. Here, other ways to help you fight the good fight.

Step 1:  Regularly disinfect the kitchen sink, the trash can, the bathroom faucet, and the tub. They’re some of the germiest places in a home, according to studies. The champion of contamination? The kitchen sponge. Clean it in the dishwasher weekly.

Step 2:  Take a brisk walk five times a week. Studies show that regular exercise can help reduce your likelihood of catching a cold.

Step 3:  Work probiotics (a.k.a. good bacteria) into your daily diet to help your immune system ward off bad bacteria. Try yogurt, fortified drinks, or a tasty treat like the 90-calorie Attune Milk Chocolate Crisp Probiotic Bar ($1.20, attunefoods.com for stores).