Cough, Cough, sniffle, sniffle... the sweet chorus of infection! Exposure to bacteria and viruses along with mental and physical stressors can take a toll on our bodies, making us susceptible to illness.
While we cannot always prevent the cold and flu, having a strong immune system is one of the best protections against these pathogens, and get us back to feeling ourselves quicker.
The flu shot is typically purported to be the best defense against the flu, however, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that it is only 23 per cent effective.
Whether you choose the flu shot or not, there are plenty of successful and natural ways to boost your immune system and treat cold and flu symptoms, creating better health now and all year round.
Here are the eight best natural cold and flu fighting strategies to help you stay well:
1. Clean hygiene:
Hygiene is the most important way to limit the spread of bacteria and viruses. Washing your hands often, sneezing into your elbow, and avoiding antibiotics for viral infections are essential to stop bacteria and viruses in their tracks.
2. Hydrate yourself:
Drinking water will help flush toxins and promote immune system efficiency. Water makes up 60 per cent of the human body and is critical for the lymphatic and circulatory systems . Drinking six to eight glasses (2-2.5 L) daily is the foundation to health and keeping hydrated will ensure your body's immune fighting potential.
3. Rest and Sleep:
Have you ever noticed that when you're sick you feel tired? Sleep is crucial for your immune system and the fatigue experienced when we're sick tells us to rest to heal and recover . So if you're under the weather make sure to go to bed early and let yourself sleep in!
4. Emergency Cupboard Supplements:
When you're sick you don't want to be running around the pharmacy or health food store, so be prepared ahead of time. Cupboard supplements, including zinc, vitamin C, and probiotics, are useful to keep on hand for the first signs of a cold or flu [5, 20, 25].
5. Immune boosting foods:
If you want to feel well you need to eat well! Unpasteurized honey, raw garlic, onions and foods containing vitamin C make great immune strengtheners [3, 9, 10, 12, 20]. Eat them all-year-round as preventative medicine.
6. Breathing meditation:
Deep breathing, meditation, and mind-body awareness allow your mind and body to rest while strengthening your immune system. Psychological stress impairs anti-viral responses and can activate inflammation pathways . Taking deep breaths and meditating can defend against harmful microorganisms and reduce inflammation .
7. Steam Inhalation and saline pot therapy:
Steam inhalation or saline pot therapy are effective home-care treatments for any head or sinus congestion. Eucalyptus is one example of an antibacterial essential oil that can be added to these therapies to fight the cold and flu [4, 23].
8. Clean up your diet and avoid sugary foods:
Give your body a break from chemicals, irritants, and sugars to fight off a throat tickle and have you feeling more vibrant and energetic. Avoiding prepackaged foods, thoroughly washing your produce, and eating organic, local and seasonal foods whenever possible will have you eating to be well!
Whether you're struggling with a cold, flu or just feeling exhausted, these 8 cold and flu fighting suggestions will help to strengthen your immune system, improve your response to stress, and boost your mood to have you back in good spirits in no time. And remember, it's not cold and flu season, it's the season to take better care of yourself!
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