5 Natural Cold & Flu Remedies
Seems like everybody has a cold or flu this week. I can’t move without someone coughing, sneezing or wheezing over me. It really is cold/flu season! So if you are trying to get over a cold or flu here are five of my favourite natural remedies.
1. Kick the sugar habit
At the best of times it’s important to avoid processed junk food and sugar but especially if you are sick, as sugar lowers our immunity by depressing our white blood cells’ ability to battle the bacterial and viral nasties. Support your body and immune system by ditching the crap and eating a diet of whole, unprocessed and nutrient dense foods.
2. Drink Up
There are so many reasons why you need to stay hydrated when you have a cold. If you have a sore throat or cough, water can moisten oxygen for easier breathing. Drinking regularly removes wastes and flushes the body of toxins and staying hydrated also helps regulate body temperature so can help if you’ve got a fever or a higher temperature than normal.
I prefer drinking hot drinks when I’m sick as I find them more soothing. I mix it up by drinking different herbal teas (my collection is pretty impressive) and I also like to make hot water with lemon, fresh ginger and manuka honey. Lemon gives a great boost of Vitamin C while ginger and manuka honey have high anti-inflammatory properties. Manuka honey also has the added bonus of anti-bacterial properties so can fight the bacteria that cause colds while soothing and healing sore throats. I call this drink my triple threat to colds!!
3. Up Your Nutrients
Most people know that Vitamin C is great for our immune system. Good sources of Vitamin C are citrus fruits like lemons, oranges and grapefruits and colourful vegetables such as bell peppers, sweet potatoes and broccoli to name a few.
Scientific studies verify that zinc is really effective at preventing and reducing the severity of colds and other infections. The best and most absorbable sources of zinc are from shell fish such as oysters, egg yolks and my favourite liver, as well as spinach, cashew nuts and pumpkin seeds.
Vitamin A works alongside zinc and is also known to play a role in immune function. Vitamin A decreases during illness so increasing foods rich in it is really important when you are sick. Great sources of Vitamin A are cayenne pepper, liver, egg yolks, leafy green vegetables and fish liver oil (such as cod liver oil).
Vitamin D has been shown to protect against colds and reverse them once you caught one. You can read my previous article on the best ways to up your Vitamin D levels especially in winter.
60-80% of your immune system is in your gut so any imbalance of gut flora can contribute to immune related illness. Probiotic supplements and probiotic foods can give your system a boost of the good guys. My favourite probiotic foods are raw sauerkraut, coconut yogurt and coconut kefir while other great sources are normal kefir, kimchi and kombucha.
4. Oils and Moisture
Bacteria and viruses love to hang out in dry environments which is why they get more prevalent in the winter months with all the central heating and heaters drying out the air. When I’m all stuffed up with a cold I love doing a steam bowl that can soothe breathing and congestion. Two oils that I find great for clearing the sinuses are peppermint oil and eucalyptus oil. I’ll fill a basin with hot water and put in a few drops of one of the oils. I’ll put my head over the basin and cover my head and basin with a towel and I’ll take deep breaths for a few minutes through my nose. Usually clears my stuffy nose in no time.
If you don’t fancy doing a steam bowl, getting a humidifier in your home to get some moisture in the air or placing a bowl of water near radiators can be of huge help.
5. Take a Break and Get Good Sleep
Many try to carry on with their lives ‘business as usual’ when they have a cold/flu but it may not be the best thing for your health and may prolong your suffering. The stress of everyday life and not getting enough sleep and rest will diminish your immunity even further. Try to get to bed a little earlier than normal, make a conscious effort to rest during the day and skip the heavy workouts for gentler exercise for a few days. Be kind to your body!
Hopefully these tips help you stay healthy during this cold/flu season.
What are your favourite natural cold/flu remedies??