Your Cold and Flu Arsenal: Three More Tips for Fending Off the Cold and Flu
By: Sarah Grace Powers – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
There’s nothing like a nasty cold – or worse the flu – to derail your plans for a week (or more) and make life miserable.
However, I’m definitely not a fan of disrupting my natural immunity with a flu shot. Unless you have serious health issues, you are much better off using herbs, foods and simple lifestyle adjustments to nip an incipient cold or flu in the bud, before it can even grab hold.
Last week I shared 3 tips for preventing colds and flus.
There are, of course, dozens of natural remedies and lifestyle modifications that can keep your immune system strong, strengthen your resistance to alien germ invaders, and—in those cases when you are taken down—help you to get rid of the virus more quickly.
So, read on for 3 more strategies for keeping your immune system strong and vigilant against those marauding viruses.
1) Exercise – But Not Too Much
It’s another proven fact: People who exercise regularly contract fewer colds than those who don’t. One study showed that women who exercised for 45 minutes a day, five days a week got fewer colds than a control group of women who simply stretched for 45 minutes once a week.
But even without the scientific proof – it just makes sense. Engaging in activity that increases your heart rate will get your blood and lymph circulating more quickly throughout your body. Toxins are expelled more easily and your body becomes stronger and more resistant to disease.
But watch out for too much of a good thing! Listen to your body and adjust your exercise program accordingly if you are feeling under the weather. It’s still beneficial to partake in some moderate exercise, even if you feel like you’re getting sick, but you’ll want to dial it down a bit.
Here’s an example to illustrate why it’s not such a great idea to just go all gung ho on the exercise when you’re starting to get sick:
A few years ago I was on a big weight lifting kick. I’d go running or do some cardio almost every day, and then hit the weight room at least three times a week. I was addicted!
So on this one day, I hauled myself out of bed at 5 a.m. and headed for the barbells—even though my throat felt scratchy and I was dead tired. Keeping up the exercise program will do me good, I reasoned. Then I followed this abbreviated night of sleep and aggro workout with a full day at work.
Umm, talk about a recipe for being completely knocked out with ‘The Crud.’
Not only were my muscles absolutely screaming at me the next day (even though I’d executed the exact same lifting routine that I did every week), but my scratchy throat was now raw, my head full of mucus, and my entire body felt like I’d been hit with a sledgehammer. I couldn’t even get out of bed. And once I did I couldn’t sit back down without feeling like my quads were going to break.
In my case, my muscles were not able to process the vigorous exercise the same way they do when my health is up to par. I have no scientific proof, but my guess is this might happen to other people too.
Since then I’ve ‘exercised’ slightly better judgment about how much to exercise when I’m under the weather. This is definitely one of those cases of ‘less is more.’
5) Eat More Garlic
You’re probably familiar with this one since even popular TV shows have touted the health-enhancing properties of garlic. Not only does it fight infections, it’s been shown to work to prevent cancer, detoxify the body from heavy metals, reduce cholesterol, and prevent heart attacks.
A sulfur compound in the garlic called allicin (which also gives garlic its distinctive odor and flavor) is responsible for most of it antimicrobial qualities. Unfortunately, the allicin is destroyed during cooking.
I have friends who swear by eating raw garlic as their sole protection against colds and flus. They spread it on toast instead of butter, toss it into power shakes, or just chomp down a couple of cloves every morning.
And it’s true – raw garlic is much more potent as a treatment and preventer of disease than its cooked version. But not everybody’s stomach can take a daily deluge of raw garlic. And some folks would prefer not to drive everyone away from the seat next to them on the bus – because of dragon breath.
Well, you only need one clove of raw garlic a day to derive the health benefits. But if even that is too much there are some alternatives.
One easy one is to add fresh, crushed garlic to cooked dishes right before they are served, that way the antimicrobial compounds will not be destroyed.
And – I actually have become of fan of the ‘garlic toast’ method. As soon as I notice any of the telltale signs of a cold trying to get me (for me the first warning is feeling really thirsty or a scratchy throat), I will crush a clove a raw garlic and spread it on top of the butter on a piece of toast (nowadays it’s gluten-free).
You can even add a thin layer of jam for a unique flavor combo. Try it – you might be surprised and find yourself with a new healthy addiction.
If you’re just not up for eating your garlic raw you’ll want to take some deodorized garlic oil capsules (about 10 mg per day), or just the powdered garlic in capsules or tablets (recommended dosage is 600 to 900 mg a day, and be sure your supplement is standardized for allicin content.)
1) Enjoy Some Elderberry
This tasty berry has gotten lots of buzz in last decade or so for its ability to fight colds and flus naturally. The blue or blackberries are rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants. Studies have shown that elderberry is not only anti-viral in its action but also anti-inflammatory.
A good way to use elderberry is as a syrup. You can take about a teaspoon twice daily to increase your resistance to nasty respiratory pathogens. Some companies also make a delicious elderberry glycerite – which is simply an herbal tincture where the herbs have been extracted into vegetable glycerin instead of alcohol.
Cold already got you? Elderberry syrup will still help to speed your recovery from either a cold or a flu. You’ll want to up the dose to 2 teaspoons of syrup 4 times a day (or one teaspoon of the tincture or glycerite four times a day).
You can also find elderberry in capsule form, and you’ll see it in many different herbal formulas that are made to combat colds and cases of flu.
Next week I’ll share a few more of my favorite herbal remedies, as well as another tried and true preventative measure for keeping healthy all winter long.
Read last week’s 3 tips: Your Cold and Flu Arsenal: 3 Tips to Stay Well During Cold Season
More by Sarah:
Sarah Grace Powers is a certified life coach and EFT Practitioner. She is a ‘dream resuscitator’, helping clients rediscover their passions and reinvent themselves no matter what their age or circumstance. In her previous career she owned and operated an herb shop and has practiced holistic living for over three decades. Find her at sarahgracecoach.com
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