The cold and flu season is hitting early this year. The rhinoviruses, the most common viral infections, like colder temperature. Here in BC it has been a colder September than usual giving these guys a great breeding ground and causing us to experience an early start to the dreaded sniffles, cough and worse. How do you protect yourself from those germs that are everywhere, as people increasingly head indoors, and treat the cold and flu well so you can get back on your feet sooner? I’m going to share 17 germ-fighting strategies that will keep you healthier this cold and flu season.
1. Avoid Germs from Surfaces
Be sure to wash your hands regularly with soap and water to minimize ingested germs from public surfaces like ATM pin pads, computer keyboards, grocery store carts, money and doors. Flu viruses can live on surfaces for 24 hours! At home keep your surfaces clean and free of germs with a regular wipe with hot water and soap. Avoid antibacterial wipes and sprays. These create superbugs, and are unnecessary too as soap and water does a great job.
2. Stop Eating Sugar
I know you didn’t want me to say it, but I have to! Put away the sugary treats. Sugar suppresses the immune system. It is why so many kids get sick after Halloween! Try to eat “clean”: reach for whole foods including plenty of vegetables and protein. Avoid processed food (anything that does not occur naturally).
3. Get Your Sweat On
Physical activity that raises your body temperature and induces that amazing sweat response is so great for strengthening your immune system. It helps to kill off bacteria, and the sweating releases toxins from your body. I recommend you get your heart rate up for more than 30 minutes each session.
4. Avoid Dairy
Dairy creates mucous and phlegm in the body. Say no to milk, cheese and yogurt while you are experiencing symptoms.
5. Increase Your Protein Consumption
Increase your protein consumption to give your body more of the building blocks it needs to fight the bad guys and keep your immune system in fighting form. Protein is needed for xx and this is why it is even more important when facing cold and flu bugs.
6. Watch What You Drink
You want to reach for hydrating beverages like water and herbal tea to flush the system. Stay away from dehydrating beverages like caffeine and alcohol.
7. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Tired people are more susceptible to developing colds and flu symptoms from the germs they encounter. If you are not getting adequate sleep, your immune system will be weakened. When the bad guys attack, your good guys don’t have a chance. Strengthen your immune system by getting plenty of sleep and see our post here for tips.
8. Control Your Stress
Stress can also decrease the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections; it prevents healing and slows recovery. Look for outlets for reducing stress, like exercise, yoga, meditation or any soothing rituals (not food please) that help you to relax. Build in plenty of time in your schedule for alone time, romantic time with your partner and play time.
9. Try Oil of Oregano
It tastes awful but it works! At the first sign of cold or flu symptoms, take Oil of Oregano.
10. Eat Immune-Boosting Foods
Stock up on the following immune-boosting foods and let yourself overindulge in them! Echinacea, foods that are high in vitamin C like oranges (or try a supplement), ginger, garlic, oregano, onion and hot sauce.
11. Try Natural Lozenges or Cough Syrup
A lozenge or natural cough syrup can help you alleviate symptoms in the short-term. I recommend elderberry lozenges or cough syrup and zinc lozenges.
12. A Spoonful of Honey Helps the Symptoms Go Away
Honey contains anti-bacterial properties and helps combat germs when inside the body. Try a spoonful of honey on it’s own or with a spoonful of crushed garlic.
13. Salt Water Gargle
Gargle for a few minutes with salt water. It will help clear mucous and bacteria from the mouth and throat.
14. Try Contrast Showers, Dry Skin Brushing and Steam Inhalation
Not only are these three things very good for helping your body shed bad toxins, they also feel really good. A contrast shower involves switching from a hot temperature to a cold temperature during the duration of the shower. Dry Skin Brushing is completed with a loofah brush used in a circular motion on the skin while it is dry. And anything from a sauna (try our infra-red sauna) or simply inhaling steam over a bowl with eucalyptus will help evict the bad germs.
15. Try Warming Socks
This is a wonderful treatment for clearing congestion. The first step is to warm your feet, such as in a bath of warm water for 5 to 10 minutes. Soak a pair of socks in ice cold water and put them on your feet (stay with me, you will enjoy this I promise). Put dry heavy, preferably wool, socks over the wet ones and leave on as you go to bed. This treatment helps to clear congestion and increase circulation. It can also be quite soothing and sedating, making it effective for pain relief as well.
16. Avoid Pain Relieving Medication
These medications work to suppress a fever. But fevers are actually good for us; they work to kill off bacteria and they signal that the immune system is working. To find pain relief, try a cool bath, followed by lying down in a dark room.
With these 16 tips you are well armed to face cold and flu season head on! Remember to make investments in wellness everyday; it’s the best preventative medicine. If you do become sick, try our tips here and be sure you rest. Sometimes we do need to take a day off.