It’s that time of year again: cold and flu season.
Sometimes, no matter how healthy your lifestyle, bad bugs happen to good people. Even members of the Joyous Health team get the sniffles sometimes!
While the best offence really always is a good defence, if all your best-laid plans to avoid getting sick end up failing, there are still plenty of natural healing strategies you can use to make sure that you don’t have to stay sick for long. Here are my top tips to have you feeling better as soon as possible!
Drink Tons of Fluids
Staying hydrated is super important for general health, and especially for your immune system. Nourishing soups, broths, fresh-pressed juices and herbal teas are all great ways to help you stay hydrated, as well as plain old water. Make sure you steer clear of anything caffeinated, though (coffee, cola, etc.), because the diuretic effect can actually dehydrate you further. Find tons of healthy liquid options on my blog here.
This is a super simple way to soothe the headaches that so often accompany colds and flus. You can buy compresses at health food stores, or make your own using an old (clean) sock or fabric scraps and fill it with rice or flax seeds. Make it extra soothing by adding dry herbs like lavender or your favourite essential oil to add some extra aromatherapeutic healing power.
Sip Some Soup
There’s a really good reason that chicken soup is one of the best-known home remedies for a cold. It’s good for your body as well as your soul! Not only is it warming and hydrating, but bone broths and their veggie counterparts contain lots of immune-boosting vitamins and minerals that’ll help you fight the bacteria and viruses that keep you feeling under the weather. Two of my most healing soup recipes are my Simple Chicken Bone Broth and my Wild Mushroom Soup.
Take it Easy
Your nervous system has two modes that govern how the rest of your body’s systems behave: fight-or-flight and rest-and-repair. When you’re highly active or highly stressed, your body’s energy is diverted away from immune support functions to allow you to keep up a high level of activity. In order for your immune system to help your body heal, you need to be in that rest-and-repair mode, and you need to be resting for your body to do that. So give yourself a break, and allow yourself at least a couple of days away from work so your immune system can do its thing. Your co-workers will thank you, because you’re also less likely to spread your germs to them!
Avoid Refined Grains, Sugars, and Processed Foods
These foods provide a quick hit of energy, but you also burn them off really quickly, which leads to blood-sugar crashes that can leave your body feeling stressed and make it difficult for your immune system to work optimally. They also tend to have low levels of the important vitamins and minerals your immune system uses to help fight the foreign invaders that make you sick. Stick to whole, nutrient-dense foods. Remember to eat the types of foods you want your body to feel like: whole, fresh and healthy!
Eat Plenty of Fermented Foods
Did you know that immune health starts in the gut? It’s true! Your gut is the front line in the battle against foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses, and the soldiers in this fight are the good bacteria that naturally live in your intestines. Illness and many of the medicines we take to fight illness can deplete the numbers of good bacteria, so eating fermented foods that contain these good, probiotic bacteria – as well as the nutrients needed to help these good bacteria flourish and multiply in your gut – can really help you shorten recovery time. Kefir, tempeh, sauerkraut and kimchi are all wonderful additions to a health-boosting meal. Learn more about the many other benefits of fermented foods here.
I hope these tips help you and your loved ones keep those sniffles to a minimum this cold and flu season!
Stay well and joyous!
Joy McCarthy is a Holistic Nutritionist in Toronto, author of Joyous Health: Eat & Live Well without Dieting, professional speaker, regular nutrition expert for various media outlets, Faculty Member at Institute of Holistic Nutrition and co-creator of Eat Well Feel Well, Toronto’s first integrated nutrition and yoga program. Find out more about her here.