What a nutritionist uses to beat a cold
Tis the season.
Cold and flu season is in full swing.
And yes even nutritionists get sick!
But there are ways to prevent the cold and flu as well as minimize its symptoms and duration. Most of us turn to drugs right away when we are sick however most of these just mask the symptoms and often suppress our immune system and alter healthy gut bacteria. This doesn't help us fight off the sickness and can make the illness last longer. After all, many times if you just let the body fight it off by itself it will take the same amount of time to get better.
So wouldn't you prefer the more natural route? Without any of the side effects or damaging effects?
Though these natural remedies assist the body in killing off pathogens, they probably won't eliminate the cold. Once you have a cold you usually have to endure it for 3 to 4 days. Most symptoms that you do encounter are a result of our defence mechanisms kicking in and fighting the virus or bacteria. The most effective way to avoid the uncomfortable symptoms of colds and flu is to simply support your immune system and to not get sick in the first place.
But there are things you can do to support your body once you do get sick.
Let me share some of my favourite ways to avoid the cold and flu, boost the immune system and tackle those nasty bugs naturally.
Sleep is one of the most important and effective ways to stay healthy and recover from illness. When your body is resting it is repairing itself. You may have noticed that you have fallen ill after sleepless nights or episodes of poor sleep. This is because the immune system functions at its best during parasympathetic activation (which occurs when the body is relaxed or asleep). In addition, if you are highly stressed and pulling all nighters you are not activating this system and most likely suppressing the immune system. This also explains why after periods of stress you often get sick or when you just leave for a vacation after working like a crazy person.
The benefits of rest and sleep for the prevention and treatment of colds and flu are largely underestimated. Get in those ZZZZ's !
One of the most popular herbs for treating the common cold, echinacea has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of cold symptoms and also prevent sickness from starting in the first place. It has been shown to increase white blood cell count (to fight infections) and improve resistance to infections. Echinacea has antibiotic properties, as well as antibacterial and anti fungal.
Make sure you get a high quality echinacea, preferably from the fresh root, whole, or aerial plant, and in liquid form. My favourites include A.Vogel Echinaforce, Gaia Herbs Echinacea Supreme (Check them out in my favourite products!), and Echinacea Angustifolia Root extract from Harmonic Arts.
Garlic contains unique compounds called sulfur and allicin, which help fight off viruses and helps prevent, reduce, and minimize cold and flu symptoms. It is also antiviral, anti fungal and antibacterial, perfect for fighting off those bugs!
Make sure you cut, crush, or slice it to release these virus fighting compounds. Add to soups, stews, sauces, you name it!
Onions contain high amounts of sulfur containing compounds (these are what make onions flavourful and make you cry) which kill off harmful organisms. They also contain quercetin, which is an antioxidant which fights free radicals and helps boost the immune system. Onions have also been said to clear up mucus.
Feeling mucus build up? Add some extra onions to your meals!
Add them with baked veggies, to salads, or make an onion soup!
5. Raw honey
I love making a warm lemon water with ginger and honey. This is my go to for a sore throat! Ever feel instant relief after a spoonful of honey? This is because honey acts a protectant film on the throat lining and helps relieve irritation. It has antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties as well.
Add some to your tea, oatmeal, yogurt, or just take a spoonful. Make sure it is organic, raw, and unpasteurized to get all the good stuff! Many honey products are heavily processed and are virtually stripped of all their beneficial nutrients resulting in a high sugar syrup void of nutrients.
Drinking increased amounts of liquids, such as water or herbal teas, helps repel viruses and infections as well as supports the function of our white blood cells (responsible for protecting the body and defending against pathogens). Avoid sugar laden drinks as these are more detrimental than beneficial. Opt for sugar free herbal teas (you can add a little bit of honey for the benefits stated above), lemon water with ginger, and water and drink them all day!
If you have a diffuser or vaporizer turn if on as it can help keep your respiratory tract moist which will support you to fight off bacteria and viruses.
Mushrooms are amazing at supporting our immune system! Some examples include reishi, chaga, shiitake, cordyceps, and turkey tail.
They help boost our immunity, stimulate our body's defense mechanisms, relieve colds and coughs, reduce mucus congestion, and reduce infection.
I like Purica's products, Four Sigmatic (check them out in my favourite products!), as well as Host Defence! I like to supplement with mushrooms or drink mushroom teas and lattes at the first sign of sickness or when everyone else is getting sick.
8. Vitamin C
Vitamin C has been shown to boost the immune system and it is especially effective in warding off colds and flu. Studies have also shown that vitamin C can lessen the severity and duration of the common cold. It is also antiviral and anti-inflammatory. Foods that contain vitamin C include citrus fruits, berries, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, green peppers, papaya.
If supplementing start with at least 1000mg per day. Always try to choose a product that has flavonoids (phytonutrients that are found in plants) as well which work synergistically together for optimal function.
Ginger has been used for thousands of years for different remedies, but also helps combat colds and flus. It has been shown to be effective in treating nausea, sore throat, sinus congestion, and fevers.
Try to avoid ginger from China and choose organic! Add to teas, soups, stews!
10. Zinc lozenges
Zinc lozenges are great to fight a cold. These lozenges provide quick relief from a sore throat. Zinc is a critical mineral and antioxidant for optimal immune function and it also supports antiviral activity.
Take for viral infections such as the common cold or flu. Make sure your product does not contain sorbitol, mannitol, or citric acid and supples at least 15 mg of elemental zinc. This will ensure optimal function and benefits.
11. Oil of oregano
This is the killer of bugs! It is one of nature's most potent antibiotics. It is antiviral, antibacterial, and anti fungal.
It is so effective though that caution should be taken when supplementing with this oil. It kills off all bacteria therefore it could also wipe out the good bugs that you need to support your health and vitality. I always recommend acute dosing (don't take long term) and taking it with a good quality probiotic. And always make sure your oil of oregano is food grade and safe to ingest!
I like New Roots Oil of Oregano with Garlic.
12. Apple Cider Vinegar
You know I love my apple cider vinegar! I literally sip on it throughout the day (I add a bit to my water bottle). It's great for SO many things but it is antibacterial and helps support your digestion as well as supply probiotics (as it is fermented) which is important to fight off bugs!
My favourite is BRAGG's ACV which is raw, unpasteurized, and organic. Add it to your food, teas, or water!
When fighting a cold or flu be sure to include nutrition in your plan of action. This will ensure the body has what it needs to fight off pathogens and recover. However, partial fasting as well as soup and liquid diets have shown to help support this process. Only eat if you feel hungry otherwise stick to liquids, Partial fasting can enhance the body's defence mechanisms as the focus has shifted away from digestion and towards fighting off infections. This enable's the body to focus all of its energy on getting rid of the cold or flu. Some great things to include in your diet are bone broth, vegetable soups, an abundance of vegetables, and immune supporting herbs such as ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon. Foods to avoid include sugars, refined and processed foods, starches, dairy, and large quantities of fruit and fruit juice.
Cheers to your health and may you avoid the cold and flu this season!