Ahh the holidays, what a wonderful time of year. Unfortunately, along with the cozy fires, traveling to see loved ones, gathering together in celebration; also comes lots of holiday stress, sharing germs and eating foods like sweets, that we wouldn’t normally eat (so much of). So what are some tips and natural cold and flu remedies to help you get through this winter? Read on…
Starve a fever, feed a cold… feed a fever, starve a chicken? …wait what do I do again? One of the main things to know regardless of what symptoms you have, is that you should avoid sugar and simple carbs when you’re sick. The reason is that as little as 100 grams can significantly reduce immune system function, from as little as 30 minutes after eating, up to 5 hours later. Sugar also competes with Vitamin C for uptake by immune cells. Lastly, sugar decreases stomach acid and digestive enzymes, impairing digestion and allowing the overgrowth of undesirable bacteria in the gut.
Short-term fasting or eating small amounts of light, easy to digest foods (such as broth, steamed veggies, brown rice, etc) during the first 24-48 hours can actually stimulate your immune cells. Common antigenic foods like dairy, wheat and peanuts should be avoided because they increase inflammatory cytokines. Avoid fasting for longer than 48 hours because eventually your immune cells’ energy can become depleted.
Chicken/turkey soup (or miso for vegetarians) with vegetables, including onion and garlic, may actually be the perfect option. One study demonstrated that chicken soup may contain substances with therapeutic value against viral respiratory infections, including having an anti-inflammatory effect.
Aside from diet what else can help?
- Rest as much as possible 24-48 hours from the onset of symptoms
- Increase water intake- It’s an important, readily available mucolytic (breaks up mucus) when drinking half of your body weight in ounces per day when sick
- Practicing good hygiene may seem like a no brainer but not all soaps are alike. One study suggests that common liquid dish washing soaps are up to 100 times more effective than antibacterial soaps in killing respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is known to cause pneumonia
What about supplements?
- High quality probiotics: A study of 638 children 3-6 years old in daycare/schools showed that probiotics decreased Upper Respiratory Infections in the probiotic group by 19%
- Herbal formulas- Combination antimicrobial formulas containing echinacea, hydrastis, berberine, Chinese herbs, olive leaf extract and others can shorten the duration of symptoms
- Vitamins D, A and C – Supplementation may improve immunity when deficient especially in winter months
Other therapies & recommendations
- Hydrotherapy – Self-help with hydrotherapy is considered a first line treatment in the holistic realm for sinusitis. One of the easiest ways to clear nasal passages is with a neti pot. There are some excellent recipes for neti solutions online and some great premade solutions available at the clinic
- Consider an all-natural ‘flu’ shot – wonderful homeopathic solutions for both prevention (or if you’re already experiencing symptoms) are available. These can be mixed with B12 to further enhance immune boosting effects. At our clinic, we find this injection therapy shortens the duration of cold and flu symptoms significantly and has helped prevent colds/flu’s in people who are generally susceptible.
We are here to help you be well this season! You can find more information or any of the therapies and supplements listed above by visiting us.