The secret to beating a cold is in your DNA

Some people catch every cold that comes along. Others never get so much as a sniffle.

The difference? The immune system, of course. The stronger yours is, the less likely you'll catch a cold and need a common cold treatment -- and the easier you'll fight it off if you do get sick.

And now, new research says the secret might be in a very specific part of the immune system: the tiny caps on the ends of the chromosomes in the white blood cells.

They're called telomeres, and they shrink each time the cell divides. The shorter they are, the higher your disease risk in general.

In the new study, researchers measured telomeres taken from the immune system T-cells of 152 healthy adults 18-55 years old, then deliberately exposed them to the rhinovirus that causes the cold to see who got sick and would need common cold treatment.

Most-- 105 of them -- caught at least a sniffle, but only 33 developed full-blown colds. And in volunteers over the age of 22, shorter telomeres doubled the risk of getting a full-blown cold: 26 percent of them got sick, versus just 13 percent of those with longer telomeres.

The link wasn't seen in the youngest volunteers, only in patients over the age of 22.

But no matter how old (or young) you are, you should take action today to make sure your telomeres stay as long as possible for as long as they can -- because acting as a common cold treatment is nothing next to everything else they can do.

Longer telomeres mean longer lives, plain and simple. They can slash your risk of all the major killers -- including heart disease, dementia, cancer, and more.

The research on telomeres is early, but already I've told you about studies that show how to increase yours, starting with fish oil. In one recent study, people given omega-3 supplements actually grew longer telomeres over four months.

Next, be sure to get regular exercise -- because in another recent study, seniors who engaged in endurance training had longer telomeres than those who didn't.

Finally, don't forget to add quality immune-boosting vitamins. They may or may not increase your telomere length, but they work as a common cold treatment.

And if you live in Southern California, I can run a lab test to measure the length of your telomeres. Contact my office for details and an appointment.