One of the least known but common factors which can greatly increase your risks of colds and flu in winter is a very simple one of not drinking enough water in winter! Why is this such a problem, and how does this cause more flu infections?!
Our immune system is the ONLY thing which can protect you from colds and flu. One of the physical barriers in this protection is your mucous membrane barrier, in your respiratory and digestive tracts. Your mucous membrane barrier is highly populated with your immune system cells and infection-fighting cells, as well as having a layer of mucus across this barrier for additional protection. The mucus barrier makes it more difficult for any infectious organisms to get through it to reach your cells and to infect them to affect your health.
But in winter this mucous membrane barrier is often much weaker because of a lack of water intake, because of these reasons:
1) We generally drink less water in winter as it's colder and we don't sweat as much, hence we often don't feel thirsty or the need to drink as much water as in summer
2) We drink more hot drinks like teas and coffees to stay warm! Unfortunately teas and coffees (and alcohol) are diuretic and cause more fluid loss in the body
3) The air in winter is drier and less humid, which can dry out our mucous membranes
4) We use more heaters and fires etc for warmth, but this too dries out our mucous membranes.
The lack of water means less production of mucus, and therefore less protection against infections like the flu virus.
Studies show that countries and environments with a higher humidity have a greatly reduced rate of flu. Other studies show that people in drier environments in winter have a much higher rate of flu. This is because the survival and transmission of the flu virus is affected by humid conditions, and virus survival rates increase in low humidity. Humid conditions will keep your mucous membranes moist, but drier conditions will dry them out.
In addition to my usual recommendations for prevention and treatment of the winter colds and flu, make sure you are drinking enough water! If you have a cup of tea or coffee to keep warm, have a glass of water too, to negate the diuretic effects of these drinks.
For the relief of symptoms of colds and flu, our supplement and herbal dispensary can help you get over the infection quicker!