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?

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I've recently become a germaphobe myself. With so many illnesses around, you can't be too careful. Besides, my job brings me into contact with the public so I keep a couple of small bottles of hand sanitizer in a drawer at my work station. I didn't think about how drinking so much water would ultimately force you to wash your hands more, but it makes a lot of sense. Thanks for another great tip! Report
Good information! Report
I am a firm believer in water and hand washing I always make sure I scrub for 20 sec's and those door knobs ugh! water just makes you feel better, I know if I'm tired I drink it to pep up(works)plus you body uses so much it's unhealthy not to drink your fare share Report
I have no problem drinking at least a gallon of water each day! I have my water bottle with me always.. I love just plain wateer! Report
Sorry, guys, until cancer DX 2007 never paid much attention to drinking water/hand washing. Don't think that caused my breast cancer. Am more attentive now, but only 'cause of impaired immunity. Now have to choose between water intake and sleep, but prescribed drugs kinda influence that, too. Report
I am only drinking water and I am feeling wonderful Report
I love water, always have! delicious! Report
Nothing can totally prevent colds & flus, but this certainly might help!
Chug-a-lug, Sparkers!!

{*flush*} {wash} {repeat} Report
Water, precious water... SO important! Report
My mother is a compulsive hand washer, and I don't think my attempts to stay clean rival hers, but I definitely wash my hands several times a day. I ALWAYS wash them when leaving a restroom. In addition, I wash them when I arrive at work, and when I arrive home. The rationale is that since I commute by subway, that washes off any germs I may have picked up holding handrails or being in such close proximity with many other people.

Washing your hands does make a difference. So does keeping your hands out of your mouth , eyes, and nose (something I try to teach my kids).

I hate to think of how many people don't wash their hands, but perhaps the threat of a flu pandemic will help get the point across. Report
Reliable studies have shown that faucets, door knobs, and push door panels in public restrooms are among the most germ-laden surfaces around. After washing and drying my hands, I use the paper towel or a facial tissue to turn off the faucets and open the door. If that's not possible, once I leave the restroom, I use my handy hand sanitizer (containing alcohol) to make sure my hands are as germ-free as possible. I'm not a fanatic but don't mind taking a little extra care to avoid illness.

As for frequent trips to the bathroom, I go so often I'm thinking about moving my desk in front of the commode. LOL Report
Anything to have people cleaner in the workplace, everyone drink water!!!

I only recently have started drinking water regularly (I was really badddd like maybe a glass a day before!) but I am an exception to water keeping us free of flu and cold, I am generally a healthy person, so regardless of my water intake over these years, I rarely get sick if ever. I might get a cold once a year on average. Report
I can't say for sure, as it's just my observation. For the last several years when my DH & I catch a cold/flu he seems to get it much worse than I do. I do take a multivitamin every day and drink at least 10 - 8 ounce glasses of water most days, he doesn't do either. Think the water may have had something to do with it. Even if it didn't prevent me from getting it totally. Report
i have a water bottle with me al the time I get in 8 to 10 cups a day Report
I will drink a cup of H2O to this article - WOW - if we only did wash after every time we go to the "little boys or girls" room - keep on hiking to the bathroom - clense your whole self. Report
I'll try to increase my water intake, but honestly, getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom is annoying...I try to stop drinking anything early enough in the evening to avoid the late night pit stop. And don't even start on car trips...anyway, I drink about 5-6 cups of water per day and I've been pretty healthy. And yes, keep your hands off of your face, nose, eyes, etc.! Report
I believe it - I see people at the gym or at restaurants and they DO NOT wash their hands properly IF at all. I also think drinking water helps us stay healthy and fight of germs after all we are about 75% water!! Report
Remember to sing Happy Birthday while washing your hands Report
i love to drink water Report
I know I've been drinking all my water daily over the past year or so and have found I was not sick as often. Go figure Report
Glad to know all those trips to the bathroom have a dual purpose!! Report
I have been washing my hands like crazy. And also lotioning to prevent dry cracks. There has been swine flu at my work and I have no desire to get it! I already drink 10+ cups of water a day and I've been washing my hands for longer as well.

Other people may think I'm going overboard, but my best friend has twins in the NICU and I'm not chancing getting sick otherwise I won't be able to go visit! Report
Great information - I need all of the motivation I can find to drink more water! Report
Wow, I didn't think there was other benefits to drinking water besides hydration! Report
I've never associated drinking lots of water with disease prevention but its a good theory - washing away germs! Door handles etc I've become paranoic about since my son pointed out how people touched handles in public places. And I was called in to do some cover in School and between one place and the next there were 7 doors to be opened and TOUCHED!!!!! but I try to use my elbow! Report
I have come to the same conclusions about drinking water/washing hands myself. Also, one of the best things you can do is DON'T TOUCH YOUR FACE. If the germs can't get in, they can't make you sick! Report
I am definitely a water drinker and have been for most of my life. I do believe it helps to keep your skin clear and healthy and assists with avoiding flu-like germs. Report
My hands are SOO chapped from all the handwashing. There isn't enough lotion out there to help me. But, drinking my green tea (don't like plain water) DOES help keep me full. Report
I dunno - interesting concept but I'm still getting over a cold that started 2 weeks ago. I drink lots of water, and always wash my hands after using the restroom AND I must use Purrell 19 times a day - there are public dispensers all over my office building and I never pass one w/o taking a hit. Still, I managed to get sick quickly this season. An ounce of prevention and all may be fine - but I don't think there's any guarantee you won't get a cold or flu... still, thanks for sharing. Report
I have friends who've popped echinechea, vitamin C, ginko, ginger, etc.... You know what ? They still caught a cold. I'm a firm believer that if a germ has your name on it, you're doomed.

These days, I very rarely catch a cold or flu. And if I do happen to catch a cold, it doesn't last for long. I figure that's because I do eat right and get some regular exercise.

Although, I will say that lately, I have been washing my hands more. It may or may not help, but it certainly can't hurt.

As for drinking water, I've been doing that for years... and guess what ? yup, I'd still catch a cold occasionally.
I'm drinking lots of water, using the restroom regularly, and definitely washing my hands!!! Keep up the good work folks!! Report
I wish. I drink tons of water (reluctantly), eat all my fruits and veggies, wash my hands incessantly as well as use hand sanitizer if we're out in public and I am on the tail end of a 2 week head cold. You can do things to lessen your chances of getting it but bottom line is, you can be doing everything right and still get sick. Report
Like Coach Nicole, I don't open bathroom doors without paper towels or if I have to I have used my shirt. I flush with my foot, usually open swinging doors with my elbow, etc. Sometimes I feel like a fanatic but it usually keeps me from getting sick. Co-workers here are abundant with sniffles and flu. So usually the first thing I do when I get here is spray everything down with Lysol. The copier, the light switch, door handles, the fridge, etc. Anything that gets touched alot!

Weird....maybe but at least it makes me feel safe and somewhat germ free!!

Now drink that water!! Report
I think drinking a lot of water could keep you from getting the flu from what I've read - it flushes toxins out of the system.

A tip about hand washing....sing the "happy birthday to you" song (in your head, please, lol) while sudsing your hands and you'll have washed the proper amount of time.

Great! I usually do get irritated with restroom trips. No more :o) Report
GREAT point Tanya about the hand washing...I never thought of it that way!!! GREAT BLOG, now off to drink my water and a little coffee this morning ;-) Report
Interesting article. Unfortunately, I'm on the skepticism boat when it comes to water flushing the cold virus (from the latter part of the article.) I drink about 10-12 cups a day, and I'm coming down with the sniffles!

It's good to note the relationship between drinking all that water, the trips to the restrooms, and the subsequent hand-washing that follows, though! I agree, hand washing is an excellent way of eliminating possible germs. Report
I drink a lot of water and only get sick maybe once a year. I have always thought drinking water was the reason I don't get the colds everybody else does. Everybody drink up, its great for our bodies in so many ways! Report
Great article, I too drink plenty of water every day. Hopefully that along with the handwashing and sanitizing when I'm not near a sink will help keep me healthy this flu season. My question is does it matter that I drink all 80 oz of water before 8 am? Considering I drink this much so early in the day do I need another 80 oz throughout the day to compensate my body or is the first thing in the morning good enough to last the entire day? Report
I appreciate this article, so I shared it with family. I drink lot's of water every day. Report
Good info . I already wash my hands a lot. Working in health care it's always been stressed a lot. It's good to know about the water. Just one more reason to be glad it's my driink of choice. Report
I love it! Two for the price of one = one great healthy bargain! Water gets in the system and does amazing work and hand washing gets done and does amazing work too! We need to encourage our families on this one. My question is: What do you do when you see someone leave the restroom without washing their hands?? Anybody remember the Seinfeld episode where "Poppy" the chef and owner of an Italian restaurant went into the restroom and Jerry was in there washing his hands and Poppy came out and adjusted his tie, said "You are in for a real treat, Poppy is going to make your dinner specially himself" (or something like that) and walked out of the restroom WITHOUT washing his hands! Jerry's face was priceless and the thought of having his meal prepared by Poppy frightening! So, I wonder how many times this happens and shudder to think it does............. Drink up, wash up and stay healthy! Think I am going to start using those paper towels to open restroom doors as well Coach Nicole! Report
Interesting article! I never thought of that. Drink up! Report
This is even more of an incentive for drinking the water we need. The trips to the restroom are annoying at times but put in the perspective of extra hand washing may be more tolerable. Report
Yeah!! for water. Report
I am very pleased with myself because I believe in this and I practice both every day. If more people did, perhaps we wouldn't have so much illness spreading right now. Report