Cold & Flu Health Supportive Methods

Monday morning I awoke with a sore throat and congestion. Before even moving myself upright and out of bed I knew I was in trouble. About 4 times a year (about once per season) I seem to come down fast and swift with a cold/flu-like combination that is often the result of a perfect storm of circumstances. In the past month I have been more stressed than usual with recent changes in work life and a week before now I was travelling, eating highly inflammatory foods that are not a normal part of my diet, and not respecting bed time in the least bit.

These factors I can only assume assisted in a suppressed immune system and my body just gave in, and that’s alright. Sometimes I believe that when I get sick, my body is trying to tell me something. Usually the message is just to slow down, or take better care of myself; doing those two things are also crucial in fighting off sicknesses and disease and helping support your body in its healing process.

Here are a few remedies and methods that I rely on in order to expedite the getting well process:

1/ Probably not news to you but drink lots of fluids! Water and herbal caffeine-free hot teas are best. Lots of fluids going through your body helps to thin mucus (if nasal or chest congestion is a problem) which is important since mucus helps facilitate the exit of invading viruses, bacteria, or allergens from your body. Hydration is also super important if you are coping with a fever. You have to remember that in times of illness, your body is working extra hard in all its processes to keep you well and reach equilibrium so giving it the material to do so (H2O !) is crucial (sick or not!)

Also, pay attention to the color of your mucus. Normal mucus is usually thin and clear. White/cloudy indicates presence of white blood cells and you are likely fighting off a cold-these cells contain a greenish colored enzyme which explains a green tint. Darker (yellow-orange/red) indicates that your body is removing infection from your body/could be tinged from blood from irritation in your nasal membranes.  Of course if you are hacking up/blowing out lots of blood tinged mucus please take heed and see a doctor. If a cough feels deep and you are short of breath, this could be the development of bronchitis or pneumonia and not just a common cold. 

2/ Pay attention to what your body is asking for, nutritionally. Try to avoid process foods and sugars and stick to whole foods (aka one ingredient, minimally processed, very little change in chemical structure). When I’m sick I don’t like to eat things that are difficult to digest or take alot of work for my body to process. It’s within my belief system that in order to heal quickly, I need to take all efforts towards supporting my immune system’s processes and putting too much energy into digestion takes away from that. This is often why cold & crisp fruit, soups, and easily digested carbohydrates are what sound most appealing when ill. I naturally gravitate towards eating more fruits and vegetables and very minimal animal products when not feeling well for this very reason. If you get into the habit of listening to your body, you will recognize that cravings are signals given for a reason. You just have to equip yourself with the knowledge to make the most healthful food choices to satisfy the signals!

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Soups are as easy to assemble even when you feel like your head is spinning. This soup started with sliced carrot, diced celery, raw beet, and shallot sauteed in coconut oil. I then stirred in the beet greens and some collard greens. I poured in 2 cups filtered water and threw in 4 smashed fresh garlic cloves. I then brought it to a boil to cook everything through til soft, stirred in 2 tbs organic white miso paste and poured it all over noodle or rice of choice (I used kelp noodles!) Soups are great because you reap the benefits of hot liquids as well as vitamin and mineral packed broth and fiber rich vegetables.

3/ Heaps of fresh ginger, garlic, hot peppers, and honey. 

Ginger helps prevent nausea, relieves indigestion, stimulates circulation and helps combat colds and coughs. The warming effect it gives, especially prepared as a hot tea ( I like to steep grated ginger in hot water for as long as possible and then strain, and add in fresh lemon juice and honey) aids in easing congestion.  Raw garlic offers its best properties therapeutically when raw. It has antiviral and antibacterial properties that can subdue a range of infections. Allicin is the sulfuric compound that is released in the oils of the garlic when crushed; this is beneficial compound that lends its antimicrobial properties best when consumed as soon as possible after chopping. When I’m fighting a cold like I have been, I like to stir it into my soup raw. If you are truly devoted to garlic as your antibacterial remedy, you can crush and eat the cloves whole multiple times a day. You could also add it into salad dressing or top eggs with it. You can combat pungent garlic aftertaste with another immune boosting herb, parsley. Parsley is exceptionally high in antioxidants and vitamin C, as well as rich in folic acid and calcium.

Hot peppers contain capsaicin which is the source of their warming and stimulant properties. This makes hot peppers a good choice for aiding digestion, clearing airways blocked by congestion due to colds, and boosts metabolism. Honey, similar to garlic, is known for its healing properties with its antibiotic action is the digestive tract. Raw or minimally processed honey is best to receive its antibacterial properties. Honey in its unfiltered form is also known to have a desensitizing effect on allergies. Honey is also very soothing on a sore throat. My favorite cold remedy is steeped ginger tea with 1/2 of a lemon, a tablespoon of raw honey, and a teaspoon of unrefined organic coconut oil, another healing superfood in its own right with similar antiviral properties.

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4/ Another key component to getting well fast is REST! Sleep is your body’s time to repair so respect its needs and hit the hay when you feel you need to. I was achy and started developing a slight fever the second day so last night I succumbed to some nyquil caps so I could sleep, knowing that the benefits my body would reap over the course of a solid night’s sleep would outweigh the ingestion of an artificially colored, chemical OTC drug. I do my best to do without help from drugstore goods but sometimes it’s necessary! For me, the key is to not be reliant on drugs as a method to wellness.  Also, be mindful of needing to rest and be kind to yourself. If you’re aching, take a hot magnesium salt soak. Try your best to take a hot shower, clean up and get comfortable. Make sure to eat well & regularly throughout the day.

Today is day 2.5 of my cold and I’m already feeling better, hopefully thanks to these remedies!

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