Can 8 Cups a Day Protect You from Cold and Flu?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
My mom is a bit of a germaphobe, and I've inherited some of her tendencies, like always opening the door of a public restroom with a paper towel upon exiting or touching door handles in public places in less conspicuous places (where others are least likely to have touched them). I do things like this all the time, but when it's cold and flu season, my radar for germs is on full-force. I don't know about where you live, but something is definitely going around Cincinnati!

Everywhere I've gone the past couple of weeks, I've encountered sniffling, coughing people. At the grocery store, in the gym, and even in my workplace! One of my Pilates clients, a regular whom I usually train twice a week, went missing for three weeks straight. Turns out she had the swine flu, as did each of her kids (and every kid she cares for in her at-home daycare business). That really hit home for me. Needless to say, I'm doing everything in my power to avoid germs right now. I simply do not want to get sick!

I had a recent conversation with Coach Tanya that I just had to share. I'm sure that our dailySpark readers, water connoisseurs that you are, will appreciate this one!

We were talking about the recent SparkPeople convention and Tanya mentioned how she saw several members slip out during presentations to use the restrooms, apologizing as they went, cursing all that water drinking for making them need to visit the restroom so often. I'm sure you can relate, right? After all, SparkPeople is mad about water and so are our members. One of the unfortunate downsides of drinking so much water is that you have to "go" more often. I can't even tell you how many visits I make to the restroom each day (seriously I would probably lose count), but I know my 8-10 cups of water a day are to blame for it! Then Tanya said, "But all that hand washing they do each time they visit the restroom is going to help them avoid swine flu!" She had a point.

But is it possible that water drinking—or more accurately, all that restroom visiting—could actually help you avoid the cold and flu this season?

Health experts do say that hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent cold and flu, including H1N1, according to the CDC. And recently, researchers reviewed almost 60 studies about strategies that reduce the spread of germs and noted that washing your hands 10 times a day may help keep the flu away. In fact, it's about as effective as wearing gloves and masks—but much more realistic.

In addition, simply drinking water may help you fight off germs. According to registered dietitian and SparkPeople nutrition expert, Becky Hand, "water helps to cleanse the body and remove toxins, including germs. By keeping body systems, especially the respiratory system, well hydrated," she says, "you can enhance your virus-fighting potential."

So drinking water keeps you healthy; using the restroom as a result (making sure that you wash your hands) several times a day helps, too. Sounds like a win-win.

Unfortunately, as a nation we get a failing grade when it comes to washing our hands properly. A recent national survey found that only 85% of Americans wash their hands after going to the bathroom (ew!) and of those, less than half wash their hands long enough (20 seconds) to help prevent the spread of germs.

You may use the restroom a dozen times a day due to all that water you drink, but take heart. Instead of viewing these pit stops as inconveniences, start thinking of them as much-needed reminders. Each trip to the toilet is another chance to help keep yourself and your family healthy this fall, one more chance to wash the germs that may have accumulated on your hands down the drain before they get the best of you.

Now I'll drink another glass (of water) to that! Will you?