“The Best Defense is a Good Offense!”
5 Ways to Combat Cold & Flu Season Naturally
By Maria Tabone
12/17/2012 | 02:44 PM
‘Tis that time of year again when, in addition to holiday cheer, comes cold and flu season! The good news is that some simple steps towards prevention can keep you healthy all year long and safe from those nasty, contagious bugs.
1) The first line of defense is to maintain a healthy immune system year-round. A good start is eating a proper diet including seasonal vegetables (sweet potatoes, winter squashes, kale, spinach, collard greens and carrots are best in winter), and also beans, nuts, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Try to incorporate red peppers since they are packed with vitamin C. And eat your mushrooms! They are wonderful immune boosters and good for the respiratory system.
2) Minimize sugar as best you can. I recommend total elimination, but as a realist–and especially at this time of year with sweet treats aplenty–we set ourselves up to fail with an all-or-nothing approach. Enjoy what you eat but don’t overdo the bad stuff.
3) Winter is a great time for staying indoors and indulging in your hobbies, which also helps if you suffer from the winter blues. Enjoy social connections that bring you joy but try not to over-schedule yourself. Yoga and tai chi are great for bringing the body back to balance, along with meditation which calms the mind. Keep in mind that excessive, high-impact exercise can sometimes hinder your immune system if you are already exhausted and depleted. Most importantly, when you get sick your body is telling you it needs to be recharged, so honor that and be kind to yourself by resting.
4) Below are some great natural remedies, whether you are sick or you feel something coming on. As always with any herb or supplement, consult with your doctor first since certain herbs may interact negatively with prescription drugs. Also, when buying herbs make sure they are standardized and buy organic whenever possible.
Andrographis– This Ayurvedic herb has been called the “Indian Echinacea.” Researchers in Britain have found significant benefits for colds when using andrographis, and people recovered quicker without any side effects. This herb stimulates immune function and can stop viral growth.
Astragalus – This Chinese herb has antiviral and immune boosting properties. It increases the activity of white blood cells which are responsible for killing viruses.
Yin Chiao – This has been a very highly respected Chinese herbal formula for hundreds of years. It needs to be taken at the very onset of a cold or flu (within the first two days). It strengthens the body if taken at the first sign of illness. It is believed by Chinese herbalists that the germ from a cold or flu will take a few days to really enter the body. Taking Yin Chiao can provide the body what it needs to heal before the germ progresses any further.
Echinacea – Echinacea stimulates the immune system and acts as an antibiotic. It is very effective when you feel a cold coming on. If you are allergic to Ragweed you may have a reaction to Echinacea since it is in the same family. Also, you should not use it if you have an autoimmune disease.
Elderberry –Elderberry is effective for stopping a cold or the flu and will speed up your recovery time. The berries contain compounds that prevent cold and flu viruses from invading and infecting cells. It also offers protection against respiratory viral infections. It can be taken as a syrup as well.
Garlic –Raw garlic has antiviral and immune stimulating properties available. Chop two cloves a day at the onset and do that until symptoms start to subside. You can add that to salad dressing or clear broth to make it easier to take.
Ginger – Ginger helps sinus and chest congestion. It’s also great for nausea. You can make a big batch of ginger tea by putting 4 inches of fresh ginger root in 8 cups of water with 3 cloves (clove is very good for colds) and boil for 20 minutes. Strain out the ginger and clove and add some honey or maple syrup – delicious!
Eucalyptus essential oil – A potent antibiotic and antiviral, eucalyptus is excellent for treating colds, flu and sinus infections when used as a steam inhalation. Boil water, add 2 drops, and breathe in the steam with a towel over your head.
Neti Pot – Viruses can enter through the tiny hairs in your nose, so if you are prone to getting colds in the winter use a neti pot to clean your sinuses regularly. Using a saline solution mixed with water will help relieve congestion and prevent the virus from entering.
5) Lastly, soups, stews and hot foods are excellent during cold weather because they warm the body.