When I was young, and had a sore throat or cold symptoms, my Mom would have me gargle with salt water. I always felt better, but I never knew the science behind it. According to randomized study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine in 2005, researchers recruited 400 volunteers and followed them for 60 days through cold and flu season. Some were told to gargle three times per day. At the end of the study, those that gargled with salt water had 40% less occurrence of cold and flu symptoms, and when they did get sick, their bronchial distress was muted compared to the group that didn’t gargle. The science behind it? Saline can draw excess fluid from tissues in throat, making them feel better. Gargling can also loosen thick mucus, and with it any allergens, bacteria, and fungi which may be residing there. The Mayo Clinic says that for best results, add a half teaspoon of salt to a full glass of warm water, gargle three times, and spit it out.

As if it’s a surprise, but Americans are thousands of steps behind other countries when it comes to daily physical activity, according to research that used pedometers to track activity. The study tracked the steps of 1,136 people in the U.S. over two days and found that they took an average of 5117 steps per day, far short of other countries including Australia (9,695), Switzerland (9,650), and Japan (7,168). The fitness gap works out to between 30 and 40 minutes of walking per day. One mile is equivalent to roughly 2000 steps, and health officials recommend 10,000 steps per day for cardiovascular improvement and weight control. Notably, in countries that reported the greater number of steps also had lower obesity rates. Hmmmmmm.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.