I confess to some real frustration here. I work hard to eat healthy food and otherwise live a healthy lifestyle, and I get highly insulted when my best efforts to take care of myself haven’t been enough to stave off a whopper of a cold.
Yet, here I am, forfeiting a good movie with friends today, because it would be downright rude to put my coughy, sniffly body in the theater. (Also, I have more freedom to moan and groan at home, without having to pretend that I feel better than I do.)
So, where did I go wrong? How did this happen in spite of my best efforts to stay cold and flu-free?
There are elements over which I have some control, and others over which have no control. One area of my life where I have some control is my immunity system. Many naturalists believe that the basic cause of disease is an imbalance in the chemistry of the body. Indeed, proper chemical balance, in theory, is absolutely essential for optimum health and freedom from disease – even the relatively time-limited, transient cold. Flu and other viruses, even cancer, occur when the body’s defense mechanism, the immune system fails to do its job.
The immune system needs support and balance just the same as the rest of our body systems.
There are several ways through which we can give the body the support and balance it needs. For some ways to navigate the flu and cold season, read here.
As I and others have often written and preached, the most obvious way to support all systems of the body, including the immune system, is by the food we consume.
Basic diet principles for healthy living and system support begin by eliminating or greatly reducing the following:
Refined sugar products
Animal meats and fats
All of these things hinder the immune system’s work by overtaxing the body. It must work overtime and with extra energy to metabolize and eliminate excess toxins these foods produce. When the body is busy eliminating toxins, it leaves less energy for immune system cells to do their job. In addition, toxins create free radicals which can attach themselves to immune cells, damaging them and rendering them less effective. The Standard American Diet (SAD) relentlessly asks the body to deal with things it was never intended to deal with.
It’s true — we do fail to protect our immune systems as much as we might.
Aside from proper nutrition there are things like lack of rest and fluids, too much stress, and not enough exercise, all of which play a part in our ability or inability to stay healthy.
Even when we do have a cold or the flu, often, even then, we fail to heed the messages about what our body needs for the smoothest, quickest possible recovery.
Here are seven common cold and flu mistakes that can prolong recovery…
1. Spreading Your Germs Around. Just because you feel a little better after a couple of days, doesn’t mean that you are not contagious. Do your coworkers the favor of staying home, keeping your distance when you’re around others, washing your hands regularly, and, of course, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
2. Refusing to be Sick. I have been guilty of this one. Who runs the show at home when Mom is sick? Moms learn how not to be sick, and/or to push through it when they are. This results in feeling even more rundown, and makes for a longer recovery. It’s a better course of action to reserve your energy for the healing it needs to do in your body.
3. Using Non-Prescribed Antibiotics. Bacterial infections require antibiotics – cold viruses do not. The very common misconception that will drastically prolong your illness is popping antibiotics for the wrong reason, which eventually creates a resistance to prescription drugs and wears your immune system down. If you must take over-the-counter medication, for cold treatment for virus recovery.
4.Not Getting Adequate Sleep. Again, color me “guilty” here. Rest and more rest are the things that will help your system to kick into high gear and fight off the cold. In many cases, it’s lack of sleep that brings on the cold in the first place.
5.High Levels of Stress. Undue anxiety can not only make you sick, but can also lengthen your recovery time if you are pushing your body too much and too quickly as it works to heal.
6. Dehydration. This is practical advice that most of us grew up with –“Drink lots of fluids when you’re sick.” Water, teas, broths, green smoothies – the more your body is hydrated the less congested your sinus’ will become with troublesome mucous. Remember, too, that alcohol dehydrates, so is not helpful when you’re making an effort to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. It can also dull the effects of any over-the-counter medications and/or prescription drugs.
7. Overdoing the Cold Meds. Some people like these. I am not a fan, preferring more natural home remedies which cause less trouble in the body. Overuse of decongestants can exacerbate cold symptoms and cause nasal cavities to become severely inflamed, thereby actually significantly slowing recovery time.
So, if you’re like me, and do your best to keep your immune system strong enough to ward off the cold and flu virus’, and still succumb, be smart in how you handle your recovery.
For good measure, try these recovery aids the next time you have a cold. They do help.