Since I’ve been one of the first in our family to get sick this season, I thought it would be a great time to refresh myself with ways to fight off colds and flu naturally. A lot of times, if you wait until you or someone in your family gets the flu or a cold, it’s hard to scramble to get the right treatment, and who wants to run out to the drugstore late at night?
Some prefer to go the preventative route, and have some of these things on hand before the cold or flu strikes. If you’d like to implement some home remedies this year to avoid colds and flu, here are some suggestions.
You have probably heard of Vitamin C for cold prevention and treatment, but have you heard of Vitamin D? We talked about the importance of Vitamin D in the Mom Mojo series, but the latest research shows that Vitamin D (particularly D3) is also important in staving off colds and flu. This may be because the lack of sunlight in the winter creates a Vitamin D deficiency, and supplements are needed to keep the immune system in top shape. You can take a D3 supplement, and/or eat foods rich in this vitamin, such as eggs, liver, salmon, and mushrooms.
Vitamin C – Still Relevant
Vitamin C is still an important cold and flu prevention vitamin. Foods that are high in Vitamin C include citrus fruits, peppers (bell and chili), parsley, dark leafy greens, and strawberries. Many of these foods are out of season during cold and flu time, so if you do get these foods at your grocery store they will not only be more expensive – they will also be less likely to contain their full allotment of Vitamin C. This is largely due to long shipment times during which the Vitamin C decreases in the foods. Therefore, a daily supplement might be a good idea.
Have you noticed that you seem to get sick at the most inopportune times? This may be because when you are under stress and have a lot of things to get done, your immune system gets stressed and weakened. Getting enough rest is key to staying healthy. You may think you don’t have time to get enough sleep or rest, but unless you allow for the time, you may find you have to take a lot more down time being sick! This is one of the areas I struggle with – slowing down. I was forced to really STOP a couple weeks ago and take care of my body. It can be incredibly hard as the one in our homes who cares for everyone else, but it is often the only way your body can heal itself.
Drink lots of fluids
Drink plenty of fluids to help break up your congestion. Drinking water or juice will prevent dehydration and keep your throat moist. You should drink at least 8 to 10 eight-ounce glasses of water daily. Include fluids such as water, sports drinks, herbal teas, fruit drinks, or ginger ale. Your mother’s chicken soup might help too! (Limit cola, coffee, and other drinks with caffeine because it acts like a diuretic and may dehydrate you.)
The reason why the influenza virus spreads like wildfire during colder months is because it loves dry environments. And our homes, with the heat running all the time, are really, really dry during the winter. This means that once it gets in, it’s easy for the virus to live longer on doorknobs and other surfaces.
Keep your home as humid as possible during the winter months. And when you get sick, run a humidifier wherever you’re resting. This will also help your nasal cavities feel better.
Homemade Cough Syrup
I ran across this recipe for a homemade cough syrup using apple cider vinegar and honey. I am anxious to try it out!
The popular cold and flu herb, echinacea, is not generally recommended as a daily preventative. While echinacea was once a very popular cold remedy, the latest science indicates that it does not appear to prevent colds and is not an effective treatment. Researchers are continuing to study echinacea’s effects on respiratory infections to determine if there is some benefit. I still use Echinacea tea when I start to feel a cold coming on. It is a great way to add in an extra boost plus get warm liquid into my body.
The good news is, there are other herbs you can use to keep your immunity working well this winter – and they are probably in your home kitchen.
* Ginger – This anti-inflammatory herb is tasty, spicy, and said to be a great cold and flu preventer. You can drink a cup of fresh ginger tea every day, and/or include this herb in your cooking. Ginger helps stimulate the nerves that lead to mucus production. If you have a scratchy throat, or dry, irritated nasal cavities, then slice some fresh ginger and put it in a tea strainer. Pour in some boiling water and let the ginger steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
* Garlic – Garlic is another herb that is sometimes used along with ginger in Asian cooking. Sprinkle minced, chopped, or crushed garlic liberally in daily recipes, or mix it with olive oil for a healthy dip for bread. You can also take garlic in capsule form. It’s been shown to be a powerful anti-viral, anti-bacterial herb.
A great source for other herbal home remedies is over at Keeper of the Home.
Another great way to combat colds and flu is to eat a healthy diet. A lot of talk has been out about the Paleo diet (you can read more here about Paleo) and I was thrilled when Emeals just released a new Paleo meal plan. They’ve also issued a Paleo Challenge for everyone to try a free week of Paleo meals available in family and for two versions.
I printed my week plan and can’t wait to try the recipes, all very simple and look delicious! Just look at the Paleo Pork Tenderloin with Peach Salsa & Peppery Slaw! If you try it out and want to subscribe, you can get 10% off with discount code PALEO.
Are you ready for winter cold & flu season?