So far I have missed the colds and flu this season. I regularly knock on wood these days to keep them at bay. I want to think that by following my own good advice in my recent newsletter /blog, I have been spared.
Still, there many reasons that these viruses find a home in our systems, and they are annoying throughout their stay, to say the least.
So, if you, too, have been spared thus far this winter, take a look here to keep yourself guarded.
If, though, you’ve got the “bug,” and you know that it’s something a doctor cannot do much about, consider some foods, drinks and herbs that can ease your symptoms and even encourage them to leave you earlier than they had planned to end their stay.
1. Liquids Are Your Best Friend.
Cold and flu bugs thrive in dried-out throats and nasal passages. Drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day can help keep your mucous membranes moist so they’re better able to trap viruses. Then they can be blown out your nose or swallowed so they’re destroyed by your stomach acids before they have a chance to make you sick. (This can not only help prevent cold and flu symptoms in the first place, it can show the virus to the door if it’s already found a home in you.
Warm water with some honey and lemon mixed into it can be very soothing. The honey will coat your throat, while the lemon will shrink swollen throat tissues and help to kill virus cells. Another option is to add honey and lemon to tea, preferably green or herbal tea.
-Aim for at least eight glasses of water or other fluids each day, and more if you have a fever.
2. Bring On the Garlic and Onions *
The allicin in those pungent garlic cloves is a potent antimicrobial that can fend off bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
-Aim to chew a clove every 3 to 4 hours. Alternatively, you can cut the clove up into small pieces and swallow them like pills, or add them to any soup. In this case, chop the garlic first and let I stand for 10-15 minutes before adding it to a soup. Doing this allows garlic’s therapeutic compounds to form.
Onions contain allicin as well, and also allion, another virus fighter.
-Aim for a serving of raw onions every few hours, which can be very helpful.
3. Spice Up Your Diet. *
In Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) medicine, which is 2000 years old, cinnamon, coriander, and ginger promote sweating and are often used to help break a fever. Additionally, generously using cayenne, horseradish, or wasabi (for sushi lovers), can shrink the blood vessels in your nose and throat to temporarily relieve congestion.
For example try this Ayurvedic fever-reducer: In a cup of hot water, mix ½ tsp each of powdered coriander and cinnamon with ¼ tsp of powdered ginger. Let it steep for 10 minutes, then enjoy. (That may not be the most appropriate verb, but this mixture can help not only with the cold but with other body systems.)
Turmeric and cloves are also packed with antioxidants which help to improve the function of the immune system. Again, a teaspoon of spices every day can help to ward off a cold or flu bug, as well has relieve their symptoms.
-Aim for as much hot spicy add-ins as you can comfortably stand.
* I discovered this seriously effective recipe a few years ago when I had a terrible cold. It contains garlic, onion, and the above mentioned spices. It got things moving an out of me in a big hurry. Trust me on this one.
4. Berry On
All berries have high concentrations of antioxidants to fight off or rid yourself of cold and flu viruses. Blueberries have the highest anti-oxidant count among 40 other fruits and vegetables.
-Aim for ½ cup a day of berries a day to help keep you healthy through the flu season. Frozen ones can certainly replace fresh ones during the winter, and organic is always the best choice
5. Warm with Chicken Soup for the Body and Soul
Grandma’s favorite cold fighter hasn’t divulged all of its healing secrets yet, but researchers have begun to find out some of them. Hot chicken soup, for starters, raises the temperature in the nose and throat, creating an inhospitable environment for viruses that prefer cooler, drier climates. It also thins out mucus so you can blow it out more easily. Some studies have shown that it does a better job of this than plain hot water. As well, chicken itself may have flu-fighting protein groups that have been shown to have anti-viral activity.
According to one laboratory study of both homemade and store-bought soups done at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the soup inhibits white blood cells, (neutrophils) that are released in huge numbers during a cold. It’s the congregation of these white cells that causes a cold’s hallmark congestion.
Homemade soup will be much more beneficial than a store-bought canned variety.
-Aim for a steaming bowlful when you’re feeling sniffly and sneezy.
Most store-bought “remedies” in the stores curb (or mask) the symptoms of colds and flu. They don’t help to flush the virus through or bring healing to damaged tissues. These food and drink remedies are a little more time-consuming, but a much more effective and natural way to heal the body and then keep it more healthy and less likely to attract future viruses.