Get Well Soon: How to Beat a Cold (or the Flu!) Fast
Millions of cases of the common cold are reported each year. Adults on average are stricken by a cold 2-3 times annually with symptoms persisting for up to 10 days while kids may be sick from a cold up to 10 times each year. The severity of seasonal influenza is unpredictable year to year. Officials from the CDC suggests that one-fifth of the U.S. population can be protected from the flu if students and school staff work diligently to protect themselves from becoming sick.
As you contemplate the reason for the season these upcoming months, have you ever wondered why the cold and flu strikes so harshly during the fall and winter months? Why are there postings for signs around every corner reminding you to get your flu shot now? Cold weather and long winters bring on more attempts of pathogens to weaken your immune defenses.
Fortunately, there are natural ways you can overcome your symptoms of cold and flu and even prevent becoming ill. Follow the tips listed below to help build a titanium immune system and protect your body from the pathogens that are circulating on and around you.
Primarily associated with rhinoviruses, the common cold is amongst the most common illnesses in the world. The majority of treatments involve a trip to the pharmacy and at-home remedies while a smaller percentage of only 28% showed individuals actually visit a practitioner for advice.
Flu SymptomsUnlike a cold, infection from the flu affects the nose and throat, as well as the lungs, which makes it a more severe illness. Most commonly, drops of bodily fluid from sneezing, coughing, and even talking spread the virus to others.
These symptoms are not present in every individual with the flu but are a good guideline for you to determine if your sickness is just a cold or if it is caused by a more serious flu illness.
The introduction of more bacteria to your gastrointestinal tract poses a threat to your gut microflora and your immune system. Microbes in the gut interact or “communicate” with the immune system signaling several immune responses to occur and therefore promote inflammation and a longer recovery time.
If you’re hungry while battling sickness, feed yourself foods that will boost immune defenses. Prebiotic- and probiotic-rich foods like Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, citrus fruits, as well as fermented dairy and vegetables will feed your gut beneficial bacteria and encourage a strong immune system.
Polyphenols found in lemons, apple cider vinegar, herbal teas, and even antioxidant-rich broths repair the immune system and effectively destroy microbes along the digestive tract.
To help alleviate sore throat and cough symptoms, try hydrating with some of these polyphenol-rich liquids:
- Add a splash of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water or drink herbal teas.
- Herbal teas provide antioxidant support that help fight against infection from viruses, bacteria, and even fungus. Ginger tea boosts glutathione activity and helps reduce inflammation and echinacea is a long-established Ayurveda herbal treatment that is loaded with supportive vitamins and antioxidants.
- Sipping on lemon water throughout the day can heal and help you combat tiredness. Out of 300 participants in one research group, the use of lemon was most popular to treat cold and flu symptoms accounting for 73% of treatment uses.
- Purple Echinacea
- Sea buckthorn fruits
- Willow bark
Garlic and onions are some of the best foods you can eat to combat symptoms of cold and flu. Both flowering plants have long been used since Egyptian practices for their medicinal treatment of viruses, bacteria, and fungus; what’s more, they contain a compound called allicin that contains sulfur and provides countless ways of healing the body from inflammation.
Eucalyptus oil: A useful agent to regulate the immune response, eucalyptus oil supports cell-mediated pathways including their innate attack on pathogens. Consider taking a steamy bath with a few drops of added eucalyptus oil for natural decongestant relief to help you breathe better and sleep sounder.
Frankincense oil: Frankincense contains Boswellic acids that have the healing potential to stimulate the immune system and serve as a potent anti-inflammatory compound. This oil is useful at reducing inflammation from stiff joints and sore muscles as well as alleviating symptoms of a sore chest and throat.
Oregano oil: Plant extract from oregano has been used as an alternative home remedy for its antibacterial properties. Oregano oil inhibits the growth of E.coli and pneumonia causing bacteria in clinical research.
Thyme oil: When used in combination with oregano oil, thyme oil exhibits powerful anti-inflammatory effects. When consumed orally, the benefits of thyme oil exhibited significant anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial responses in the gut increasing cytokines to help fight infection. Traditionally, thyme essential oil is used for antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties, and also exhibits free-radical scavenging abilities.
Citrus oils: Citrus essential oils are great to help you combat fatigue and alleviate those winter blues. Not limited to lemons, limes, and oranges, citrus essential oils also include grapefruit, bergamot, and neroli. These oils are best inhaled for their therapeutic properties to suppress abnormal cell cycle pathways that cause tissue damage and regulates cytokine activity. Citrus oil compounds have been used in Ayurevic practices to prevent symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism and can be equally beneficial to helping your overcome a cold or flu.
Clove oil: Clove oil has tremendous abilities to destroy bacteria that accumulate in the oral cavity creating inflammation and free radical damage. Clove oil has been shown to also effect multi-resistant strains of bacteria and exhibit strong free radical activity. When battling infection with symptoms of a sore throat or cough, take simple measures like brushing your teeth with an added drop of clove oil to reap the benefits from this powerful astringent.
• Light Skin = 15-20 minutes per day
• Medium Skin = 25-30 minutes per day
• Dark Skin = 40-45 minutes per day
When unable to receive the recommended sun exposure, boost your vitamin D levels with a supplement containing doses at 1,000 IU of vitamin D3. For every 25 pounds of body weight, supplement 1,000 IU vitamin D3 daily. Note: Supplements are best taken with a healthy fat such as olive oil for maximum absorption.
Some of the highest sources of vitamin C per serving are found in spinach, leeks, chives, kale and sweet bell peppers. Other foods rich in vitamin C are lemons, limes and an abundance of green vegetables which also contain low concentrations of sugar. Add these vegetables to your bone broths and soups for a light and healthy meal to fight infection while sick and juice lemons and limes into your water frequently to maintain optimal hydration.
Try to avoid vitamin C supplements containing added sugars, artificial colors, and preservatives, which can inhibit immune defenses. Take two grams of a vitamin C supplement every hour that you are awake until you feel better. The following day supplement with 1 gram of vitamin C to restore your vitamin C levels.
Zinc increases the performance of powerhouse antioxidant systems like Sod (superoxide dismutase) that protects cells from viral infection and damage. Zinc increases the immune response to defend against pathogenic activity including viral replication and inhibits oxidative damage. It is especially helpful at reducing inflammation in the body by regulating the immune response to destructive activity.
In combination with the ways listed above, consider the benefits of supplementing zinc into your diet and you will be have fewer sick days in a year. Especially over the cooler holiday months when you are more confined in doors with others, add these foods to your meals for their zinc protection:
- Wild caught salmon
- Pasture raised chicken
- Dark chocolate
For faster results, use a high-quality zinc supplementation. The ideal form of zinc supplementation is zinc glycinate where zinc is connected to one or two molecules of the amino acid glycine. Glycine helps with liver detoxification and supports the immune system.
Article by Pamela Connor, functional nutritionist at Connor Wellness Clinic in Roseville. Through Pamela’s one-on-one root cause approach, she helps people achieve their vision of physical health.