I am all about beating cold and flu season…but doing it naturally! Here are some things you can do to stay healthy this season!
It’s fall and the kids have gone back to school and the weather is begin to get cooler. With the advent of fall comes the start of cold and flu season. I am always amazed how many people get sick once school starts up again.
This year, there are two different viruses making the rounds…a nasty upper respiratory virus that leaves it’s victims congested and coughing for a few weeks. The second is a particularly nasty stomach virus that knocks out sufferers for several days. Definitely not your typical 24 hour stomach bug!
The good news is that there are ways that you can prevent yourself from being knocked out of commission by a cold or the flu. Here are some of the best things that you can do:
1. Get plenty of sleep
When you are sleep deprived, it lowers your immune system, leaving you open to viruses and infection. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night will help to keep your immune system strong so that you can fight the unwanted critters when you are exposed to them.
2. Wash your hands
Our hands are germ magnets. Everything that we touch transfers germs to the skin on our hands. And unfortunately, we are not aware of how many times we rub our eyes, noses or mouths throughout the day. These are some of the best ways that germs get into our bodies. So by washing our hands, we lessen the likelihood of contracting a virus in this manner. It also prevent us from passing on any germs that may have been lingering on our skin. Just avoid using anti-bacterial soaps. They contain triclosan, a chemical that is toxic to the body, and which also contributes to the emergence of antibiotic resistant “super bugs”.
3. Practice stress management
It is vitally important to take the time to unwind and relax. Chronic stress lowers your immune system and leaves you vulnerable to being infected by viruses. So make sure you take some quiet time and let yourself unwind.
When we are sick, one of the ways that the body tries to flush the virus out is through our lymphatic system. Our lymphatic system actually helps the immune system by destroying bacteria and viruses as well as filtering out any garbage or toxins. Unfortunately, unlike our circulatory system in which the blood is moved through the body by our heart, the lymphatic system does not have such a pump. So lymph is only moved when we exercise. Without that movement, and viruses or bacteria present will have a chance to incubate and you will get sick. Gentle aerobic exercise, can help to move the lymph so that you can stay healthy.
Eating a diet that is full of highly processed foods is a sure recipe for frequent illness. Junk foods have little to no nutritional value and require your body to expend more energy to process them. When you eat more whole foods…fresh fruits and vegetables, your body gets more vital nutrients that allow your immune system to function at peak capacity and can help you to stay healthy.
Garlic is a powerful bacteria and virus killing powerhouse that can help you to get through a cold or flu much faster than if you did nothing. The important thing when using garlic is that you take a clove or two of fresh garlic (not jarred, powder or pill form). Crush or chop the garlic and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes before eating. This allows the main bacteria fighting compound Allicin to be formed. Allicin will only be active for about an hour after crushing or chopping, so be sure to use it within that time frame so that you can reap the benefits of this healing powerhouse.
7. Coconut oil
Many people absolutely swear by the healing properties of extra virgin coconut oil. This healing oil contains lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which are all known for their anti-viral, antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It is best to start with one teaspoon of coconut oil a day and work up to 1-2 tablespoons over time. If you take too much coconut oil, it cause nausea and diarrhea. You can also use this in cooking and baking.
There are many essential oils that are known for their antibacterial and antiviral properties. The best oils for keeping yourself healthy are: frankincense, lavender, lemongrass, rosemary, eucalyptus and tea tree. Please do not use any of these essential oils on the skin without being diluted in a carrier oil. They are highly concentrated and can irritate or burn your skin.
The best way to use them is to mix 3-5 drops of an oil in 1 tbsp of a carrier oil such as sweet almond, jojoba or fractionated coconut oil. You can also use extra virgin olive oil in a pinch. Then rub the mix on the bottoms of your feet for the best absorption. You can also rub the mix on your back, legs, shoulders, neck or arms. Just don’t get it in your eyes! Less is more when it comes to essential oil safety, so using more will not provide faster or better results. Do not take this internally. Another option is to diffuse the essential oils in the air to inhale.
11. Get that vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increase in colds and flu. Increasing your intake of vitamin D can help to prevent colds and the flu from knocking you out! You can get vitamin D through exposure to the sun, by taking high quality cod liver oil or in a vitamin D3 supplement.
12. Get some probiotics
Many people don’t realize that the majority of our immune system is actually located in our gut. And if our good gut flora is being overpopulated by bad gut flora, you will have a greater chance of getting sick simply because of the fact that your immune system will not be functioning the way it needs to. One way to boost the good gut bacteria is by eating or drinking fermented foods and beverages such as lacto-fermented vegetables like kimchee and saurkraut or drinks like kefir and kombucha. These foods and beverages are loaded with probiotics and are often contain more probiotic goodness than supplements. If you don’t have access to fermented foods and beverages, then a good probiotic supplement can help introduce more good gut bacteria and that will help to keep your immune system functioning.
13. Drink plenty of water
Water is one of the best way to detoxify the body and if you become even slightly dehydrated, it creates additional stress. Drinking water will help to flush away any viruses or bacteria that you may be exposed to. Add a pinch of sea salt to help your cells to absorb the water even better!
The best thing that you can do is to be proactive about your health. You have that power. Take care of yourself and you can avoid getting sick during this cold and flu season.