Andrew Huberman’s Thoughts on Winter Colds

With cold & flu season upon us, Andrew Huberman timed the release of his recent podcast, on “Winter Months & Sickness,” just about perfectly.  In the short episode, he provides some quick, easy, & inexpensive ways to stay well during the colder months.  For those of you who don’t know who Huberman is, he’s a top neuroscientist at Stanford.  This article is a continuation of articles that act as “Cliff Notes” for his often-long podcast episodes.  In this article, we’ll discuss “Andrew Huberman’s Thoughts on Winter Colds,” broken down into easily digestible take-aways.

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Andrew Huberman is one of the top neuroscientists in the country. Photo courtesy of

“The hairs of your nostrils, the mucus itself, & the microbiome (trillions of little micro-bacteria that thrive in the mucosal lining of your nasal passages) actually serve to protect against incoming infections. One of the best ways to keep the mucosal lining thriving & intact is to make sure that the air you’re breathing is sufficiently humidified.”


– Dr. Andrew Huberman

Andrew Huberman Video on Winter Sickness

You can access Huberman’s specific video on colds & flus below, via YouTube.  In my take-aways that follow, I also cite the minute-mark where he mentions each point ~ so you can clearly reference it for yourself.

Huberman’s Specific Take-Aways from this Episode: 

  • The research clearly shows that people are more prone to getting colds & flus during the wintertime, when days are shortest & nights are longest (2:10). Shorter days correlate with colder temperatures (3:16).
  • Because of the shorter days, people are spending more time indoors during the winter ~ in closer proximity to other people. (4:06)  The closer you are to somebody who is sneezing or coughing, the more likely you will get sick. 

**BIG TAKEAWAY = Close proximity to people who are actively coughing & sneezing is one of the best ways TO get sick. (4:50)  So naturally, staying away from people who are sick is the best way to avoid getting a virus.  If someone lives with you, this might mean not sharing a bed with them ~ or even avoiding being in the same room.  The closer the contact: the more likely you will be to get sick (i.e. hugs, kisses, hand shakes, etc.).

  • If people are still sneezing & coughing: they are still contagious.  PERIOD. (7:25)  Even if they tell you they’re “not contagious.” 
  • During the winter, most of us are spending more time indoors, in heated rooms. (8:00)  And all heated air is drier air (not humid).  Heated air especially tends to dry out the nasal passages (9:15). 

**BIG TAKEAWAY = The way air is heated indoors dries out our nasal passages.  “And the nasal passages represent a primary site of defense for viral infections like colds & flus, but also for bacterial & fungal infections,” says Huberman. (9:40)  Infections can actually get trapped in the nose, before they make their way deeper into your body. (10:58)

  • It is essential then, to keep this mucosal lining healthy & intact, so that they can best do their job during cold & flu season especially. (11:45)  How to do this?  Make sure the air you’re breathing is sufficiently humidified!! (11:50)  Nasal breathing, vs. mouth breathing, is also immensely helpful in keeping your respiratory pathways healthy & resistant to incoming viruses.  In fact, people who breathe through their nose are less likely to get sick than people who breathe though their mouths! (14:56)

**BIG TAKEAWAY =  Breathe through your nose, instead of breathing through your mouth.  And if you’re spending a lot of time indoors during the winter: it might be wise to invest in a humidifier for whatever rooms you spend the most time in ~ & especially in the room you’re sleeping in at night.

There are two ways to do this: 1) Get a one-room, smaller humidifier; or 2) Invest in a whole-house humidifier, that will humidify your entire house through your existing vents. I bought one a few years ago, & virtually never get sick when I’m home….only when I travel! 

  • If you’re going to be outside for long periods of time in the winter (i.e. exercising, walking, golfing, etc.), try to breathe your nose as much as possible (18:22).  And when you come back inside: find a way to re-hydrate your (now dry) nasal passages.  This could mean: taking a hot shower, using a steam room or sauna, or being in a room with a humidifer. 

But perhaps the fastest way to re-hydrate nasal passages immediately ~ is to use a Nebulizer.  I bought one a year ago, on the advice of my doctor.  You place the Nebulizer directly over your nose, & breathe humidifed air directly into your nose (I use just plain salt & water).  Within minutes, you’ll actually feel your nasal passages being much wetter & more humidified; often times, I sneeze after using the Nebulizer!  It’s like a humidifier for your nose.

“Keeping the air you breathe, especially at night, sufficiently humidified is one great way to off-set colds & flus that you might be combating, [or that you brought] home from work, & your immune system needs to ward it off.” (13:10)


– Andrew Huberman

Whole-House Humidifier


Bedroom Humidifier

Andrew Huberman’s Thoughts on Winter Colds

I hope this article has been helpful, & reminds you of principles you already know ~ & that have much science to back them up (Huberman cites many different studies during this episode).  I’ve also written about his favorite sleep aids, & his thoughts on berberine: a powerful supplement for stabilizing blood sugar.

xoxo Noelia

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