Combating Cold and Flu Naturally for Most Diets
Cold and Flu season is upon us. This just happens to coincide with the time of year that most people have resolved to eat healthier and exercise more. A break in a newly established routine while convalescing might make it difficult to get back on track.
Hopefully, eating healthy and exercising will have strengthened your immune system well enough to avoid catching these bugs, or at least hasten your recovery if you do. But, if you are at the beginning stages of a healthier lifestyle, this might not be the case yet.
At any rate, here are some healthy ideas to help you pull through.
Step Away From The Soda and Saltines!
There is no reputable diet, Keto/Paleo, Plant Based, or otherwise, that place these on the preferred foods list. How they ever became popular for treating illnesses is curious.
Obviously drinking plenty of liquids is good for you, but not when they are laden with tons of sugar, or High Fructose Corn Sweetener. Saltine crackers may help absorb gastric acid and relieve upset stomach, as most starchy foods will do, but are high in carbohydrates and low in overall nutrition. When you ingest something with a high glycemic index, your blood glucose levels rise. This requires your body to release insulin to absorb extra sugar. Once all of the sugar has been absorbed, you feel a drop in energy.
Other things to avoid are Dairy (contributes to the build up of mucous and phlegm) Spicy foods, Fried foods, and Alcohol.
Bottom line, these temporary symptom relievers are actually making your body work harder to heal you.
This is the first thing you usually hear. And, for good reason.
Dehydration is a major wellness issue that people suffering from the flu or other illnesses can find easy to ignore, especially when facing nausea. Why is hydration so important when fighting an illness?
Sickness-fighting proteins transport through bodily fluids. Dehydration creates a hurdle for these proteins as they attempt to move through the body and do their job. In contrast, loading up on fluids will help to reduce headaches, relieve flu symptoms, and strengthen the body’s immune response system, ultimately diminishing the sickness all together.
Staying hydrated helps improve your oxygen flow, flushing out harmful toxins. Helps your digestion run more efficiently, preventing vomiting and diarrhea. And, keeps your eyes and mouth wet, blocking contaminants that can cause infection, and helps your body get rid of built-up mucous and phlegm.
Water, Coconut Water, Broth, Vegetable Juices, or eating fresh fruits and vegetables are good ways to stay hydrated. But, some of the best drinks for helping combat Cold and Flu are Herbal Teas. And, one of the best blends to serve this purpose is blended with:
Garlic, Ginger, and Cayenne
Although a strong blend of this tea can taste terrible without honey added, it is really something to try when you feel a virus coming on. Garlic is antibacterial; it also stimulates the immune system, helps with respiratory conditions, cleans out the digestive tract, and can aid in digestion. Be aware, however, that taking too much can cause gastrointestinal irritation. That is why ginger is the other ingredient in this tea—its ability to help with just about any kind of stomach ailment or nausea is hard to surpass.
Ginger is also good for pain and sore muscles. Cayenne, on the other hand, is anti-fungal and antibacterial, helps your digestive tract, breaks up mucus, and increases circulation. Garlic, ginger and cayenne all induce sweating, which helps detoxify the body. That’s why this tea really packs a punch that can help stop the flu in its tracks.
To make the tea you’ll need a few slices of fresh ginger, a clove of chopped garlic, an eighth of a teaspoon of cayenne powder, and your favorite Herbal or Green tea. Boil the garlic and ginger first for 20 minutes, then steep the tea and add the cayenne. Add honey to taste. For best results, drink three to four cups per day.
Bananas are a great food to eat when you're sick. They're easy to chew and bland in flavor, but also provide a decent amount of calories and nutrients. They are often recommended for nausea.
Another big benefit of bananas is the soluble fiber they contain. If you have diarrhea, bananas are one of the best foods you can eat because the fiber can help relieve diarrhea. In fact, some hospitals use banana flakes to treat patients with diarrhea.
Fruits can be beneficial when sick. They are rich sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber, which support your body and immune system.
Some fruits also contain beneficial compounds called anthocyanins, which are types of flavonoids that give fruits their red, blue and purple color. Some of the best sources are strawberries, cranberries, blueberries and blackberries.
Anthocyanins make berries excellent foods to eat when sick because they have strong anti-inflammatory, antiviral and immune-boosting effects.
Several studies found that fruit extracts high in anthocyanins can inhibit common viruses and bacteria from attaching to cells. They also stimulate the body's immune response.
Green Leafy Vegetables: It is important to get all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs while sick, but that can be difficult to do with a typical "sick foods" diet.
Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, romaine lettuce and kale are packed full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. They are especially good sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and folate.
Dark green vegetables are also loaded with beneficial plant compounds. These act as antioxidants to protect cells from damage and help fight inflammation. Leafy greens have also been used for their antibacterial properties.
Chocolate. Yes, you read that right... Cacao seeds should be considered a 'super fruit' and products derived from cacao seed extracts, such as natural cocoa powder and dark chocolate, as 'super foods,'" said Dr Debra Millar, lead author of a study published in the Chemistry Central Journal. The findings showed dark chocolate and cocoa had more antioxidants and more flavonols than fruit juices — including supposed superfruits like acai berries, cranberries, and pomegranates.
Sand Creek Restoratives' Guilt-Free Hot Cocoa Mix is Dairy-Free and Loaded with Organic, Cold Processed, Extra Rich Raw Cocoa Powder, and electrolytes. Not only might it help you get back on your feet sooner, but feels great on a sore throat.
The mineral zinc is important for your immune system. This nutrient helps your body make germ-fighting white blood cells. Research shows that zinc might help ease cold and flu symptoms. Zinc helps your body fight the flu virus and may slow down how fast it multiplies.
Vitamin C - A Harvard study showed that taking at least 200 mg of vitamin C per day did appear to reduce the duration of cold symptoms by an average of 8% in adults and 14% in children, which translated to about one less day of illness.
After staying hydrated, Sleep is the most common, and usually the easiest, thing to do while ill. Use any opportunity possible to rest, sleep, and reserve that energy your body needs to fight off the bug.
A Warm Water and Salt Rinse can soothe a sore throat. It can also help to clear mucous. Here’s how to rinse with salt water:
- Boil or heat up water and let it cool until it’s warm or at room temperature. Mix 1/2 tsp salt to 8 ounces of warm water.
- Pull the salt water to the back of your throat and gargle it for about 10 to 30 seconds so that it rinses your mouth and throat.
- Spit the water into a sink and repeat 2 to 4 times.
Do not swallow the salt water.
Essential Oils- Some types of essential oils may help protect you against certain viruses and bacteria. One study found that tea tree oil helps to fight the flu virus by slowing or stopping the rate that the virus multiplies. According to the study, tea tree oil works best when it’s used within two hours of infection. This shows that it may help to block the flu virus from multiplying.
In practice, you might add a few drops of tea tree oil to liquid hand soap when you wash your hands or mixed into lotion you use. Some commercially made mouthwashes include it as an ingredient.
Other plant and herbal essential oils may also work as natural antibiotics and antivirals. These include:
- cinnamon oil
- peppermint oil
- eucalyptus oil
- geranium oil
- lemon oil
- thyme oil
- oregano oil
Use essential oils only as directed. Do not ingest essential oils, many are toxic. Most essential oils can be used on the skin after they’re mixed with oils like almond or olive oil. You can add fresh and dried herbs and spices to food to get similar benefits.
There are any number of Home Remedies that people have relied on through generations. Whisky, Lemon juice and Honey was one used in my household when I was a kid. TamagoZake is a traditional remedy I was introduced to while living in Japan. While conventional science doesn't necessarily support the effectiveness of these, many old-school methods are sometimes vindicated by conventional science's "new discoveries" at some point. Who knows...
But, remember, "Prevention is the Best Medicine." Eat well, Exercise, and Practice good hygiene.