It is that time of year again, when every man and his dog seems to have a cold and you are right in the firing line of being next. So from one hippy to another, here’s a few steps you can take to combat cold/flu!
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
The number one aim of the game is to stop it before it even starts. Prevention is better than cure – you’ve heard it before. If you could keep your immune system strong year round so you don’t have to deal with the inconvenience of a cold, you would right? This prevention comes from leading a balanced lifestyle, listening to your body and maintaining a diet that supports optimal health and wellbeing. Here’s how to best prevent a cold in winter.
Mind and Spirit
The mind is the most important aspect of our health and one that tends to suffer for some in the winter months. Winter is a time to recuperate and reflect. It doesn’t have the buzz and activity of summer, rather it is a time that we use to naturally unwind. Find your happiness by doing pleasant things, talking with friends, long hot baths, meditation, walks outside in nature. Stay warm and physically energized by practicing yoga and burn oils like lavender, cedar wood, sandalwood and frankincense to help you appreciate the beauty and stillness of winter. Good health starts with a healthy mind and stress is a big culprit for weakening the immune system. If you are feeling a cold coming on, chances are your body is becoming a little run down and warning you to slow up a bit.
Body and Nutrition
The immune system and our skin are in need of special attention in winter. Our skin, as our first line of immune defense against airborne viruses and bacteria, can often become dry and cracked. Maintain good hydration, plenty of essential fatty acids in the diet and nourish with natural, organic skin care. Make sure you are getting plenty of rest- going to bed early when the sun goes down, and rising early when the sun comes up. Eat seasonal produce. Drink plenty of water and warm drinks like herbal tea. When the weather becomes cooler, enjoy more protein based meals that include organic meat (for meat eaters), tofu and legumes. Make porridges, casseroles, soups and stews including foods like garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper. Roast and steam vegetables. Eat warm, earthy colours. Think deep greens, dark yellows, oranges and reds. Pumpkins, parsnips, sweet potato, winter squash, turnips, apples, pears, figs, elderberries, cranberries etc. Focus on a diet that allows you to build energy utilizing all the lovely foods in season.
Now if you do happen to be struck down by a cold – that’s when we unleash the real hippy. Here are a couple of effective ways to fight a cold once it has hit.
Food as Medicine
Garlic, ginger, turmeric, manuka honey and horse radish are all great cold fighting foods! Grated ginger, a teaspoon of manuka honey and fresh lemon (rich in vitamin C) in hot water can work wonders when you are feeling under the weather. Add a teaspoon of manuka to our Turmeric chai blend full of warming spices for an added immune boost. Garlic acts as a potent natural antibiotic – make sure the garlic is minced before consuming. This allows the active constituent allicin to work its magic. Homemade hummus anyone!?
Vitamin C, Zinc
Vitamin C and zinc are great to strengthen the immune system. Vitamin C is great right at the beginning when you start to feel like a cold is looming, this will help nip it in the bud. Zinc is great before AND during, helping to reduce the onset of colds and flu but also helping to decrease the duration and severity. I would always suggest practitioner grade products and consulting with a qualified Naturopath when it comes to supplements.
Look after your gut! 70% of the immune system lies within the gut- strengthen the gut and as a result, strengthen your immune system. Up your intake of good intestinal bacteria any time you get sick. Friendly gut flora helps to produce virus-fighting antibodies and helps with vitamin absorption from your foods and supplements. Get your probiotics via foods like kimichi, sauerkraut, kefir and yogurt and/or via supplementation. Consult with a Naturopath about finding the right probiotic for you.
Hot herbal tea is not only soothing when sick, it is also gently therapeutic. We have two immune boosting blends available. Restore – which contains gold standard immune herb Echinacea along with herbs like Nettle and Marshmallow root, which coats and soothes a sore throat. Our other immune blend is our Turmeric Chai – full of antibacterial, warming herbs and spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves and turmeric. Add manuka honey for added benefits. Hydration is key when fighting a cold, herbal tea will help to bump up your water intake.
If you are feeling a little stuffy and heavy headed, use essential oils such as Eucalypts, thyme, rosemary and oregano in a bowl of boiling water and hover your face over it for about 15 minutes. Use a towel to cover your head and keep the heat in. This not only helps to clear congestion but it also assists with killing virus and bacteria in the lungs and sinuses.
If you are rundown with a cold, your body is telling you to slow down. Listen to it. Rest and reset and sooner rather than later you will be back to your old self!
Remember a lot of medications bought over the counter will cover up symptoms of cold and flu but will not do anything about the cause! Use these tips to help bring your health back into balance holistically and you will have a much better chance of a cold free season!