10 Ways To Prevent A Cold Or Flu This Winter + 2 Extra Tips
The cold weather has arrived once again, so I’ve turned to my Winter Wellness Protocols and tips for avoiding a cold. I’ve updated my list with 2 extra massively important and easy healthy tips. (Updated 01/01/19)
Winter is typically thought of as cold and flu season. But germs are around during every season of the year. Germs are bacteria or viruses that cause your immune system to fight back.
Extra Tip #1: Wash Your Hands
It should probably go without saying, but I'll say it anyway: wash your hands. You use your hands to do everything from eating to flushing the toilet. Your hands carry around about 3200 bacteria everyday. More often than not, your hands end up inside your mouth, your nose, and your eyes. This is where germs enter into your body and get into your bloodstream. Be more aware of when and how often you touch your face or put your fingers in your mouth or eyes. Using a clean finger to scratch your eye may just be the key to avoiding sick time on the couch.
The cheapest and most effective tip for staying healthy is: wash your hands. Teaching children to wash their hands may seem like an insurmountable task, but it can pay off for the whole family. One family member with a cold or flu may inadvertently contaminate the whole living space with their dirty hands. Use this simple tip as prevention to avoid a cold or flu, and as treatment when you are sick.
Extra Tip #2: Avoid That Sugar
Here is another plain and simple truth: sugar makes you sick. Of course, it is actual bacteria or viruses that cause a cold or flu. But eating a high sugar diet lowers your immune function. If you are eating loads of sugar, your immune cells have no chance of fighting off bacteria and viruses. Cutting down on sugar during the holidays can be especially challenging, but rewarding.
The next time you go to a holiday party and are offered dessert, just say no, and explain that you don’t want to get sick. You might get some sideways glances, but at least you won’t have to take time off of work to lay in bed with the flu.
Whatever the cause may be, the cold and flu season is here to stay. But there are so many ways you can safeguard yourself and those you love. When I start to feel a tickle in my throat or pressure in my sinuses, I don’t wait for the worst to hit.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
I have learned to take action to protect myself from colds and the flu. If I do end up getting infected with something, I have my proven strategies to shorten the time and the severity of my symptoms. Here are my top 10 tips for preventing or shortening a cold or the flu with natural remedies!
1. Drink Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar has super alkalizing powers. When you start to feel sick or even if you are in the depths of illness, apple cider vinegar can help. The active ingredient, acetic acid, packs a powerful 2-part-punch to any illness. First, the acetic acid is anti-microbial, so it will kill any nasty germs hiding in your throat. It has even been shown to kill salmonella and tuberculosis. And second, it helps to alkalize your system.
Next time you feel a sore throat, try this recipe:
2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (ACV)
1 teaspoon raw local honey (optional but suggested for taste)
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
2. Drink Ginger
Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory so it makes sense to sip on ginger tea to reduce swelling in your irritated throat.
The easiest way to consume fresh ginger is with a homemade tea. Using fresh or frozen ginger for making tea ensures that you are getting all of the therapeutic compounds, for just pennies per serving. Home brewed ginger tea is simple to make and allows you to consume it at the strength you choose.
Ginger tea recipe:
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger (about 4 inches long)
4 cups filtered water
Local raw honey (optional)
Simmer for 10-20 minutes
Strain off liquid and sip
3. Take Vitamin C
Vitamin C is the strongest and cheapest immune booster there is. We are conditioned to think that 500 mg is a therapeutic dose of Vitamin C. But it isn't! Dr. Cathcart and Dr. Levy recommend 30 grams (30,000 milligrams) for fighting a cold. That is difficult to achieve unless you are using liposomal vitamin C. Use a liposomal Vitamin C so that you can get high doses without the worry of diarrhea.
4. Gargle Warm Water & Salt
Warm water and salt is the easiest remedy for a sore throat. Water is necessary to create mucus and to keep your throat and sinuses lubricated. You can easily become dehydrated from blowing your nose and coughing all day. Gargling with warm salt will soothe your throat and kill bacteria lingering in your swollen tonsils.
5. Eat Chicken Soup
Chicken soup is a timeless favorite for colds and flus. It is delicious and depending on how you make it, the broth can be the perfect remedy for illness. Homemade bone broth is full of minerals and amino acids. It is liquid super-nutrition for the immune cells in your intestines. You can buy dehydrated bone broth (collagen peptides) or make your own with a homemade recipe. I love collagen peptides so much that I put together some of my favorite recipes just for you.
6. Take Beta Glucan
Beta Glucan has been studied against the common cold and cancer. Beta Glucan doesn't kill bacteria or cancer, but it does encourage your own killer cells to do their job. Beta Glucan supplements act like an army sergeant who will make sure that all of your immune cells are on task and ready to fight. Don't be fooled by low quality or filler products. Transfer Point Beta Glucan is the only brand I trust.
7. Take Turmeric
Turmeric is ginger's anti-inflammatory cousin. Turmeric can be eaten or taken as a supplement. We usually think of turmeric for pain and inflammation. But you might not realize that when you have a cold or flu, your internal inflammation rises. You will recognize the inflammation as an achy body or swollen glands.
8. Support Your Gut
When you talk about your immune system, you are really talking about your digestive tract. About 70-80% of your immune cells are in your gut. So if you want to improve your overall immune system, you have to support your gut. Everyone seems to know that probiotics are useful for the digestive tract but they are essential for the immune system as well. Dr. Ohhira's Essential Formulas doesn't have to be refrigerated and has prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics.
9. Eat Raw Garlic
Raw garlic is a staple in my Winter Wellness Pharmacy. Raw garlic has an antimicrobial compound named allin. When you chew (or chop) the garlic, the allin is converted into allicin which is even stronger and better at killing germs. If you prefer a more convenient route, Designs For Health GarliActive has a high-allicin formula in a capsule. I can't promise you won't burp up garlic taste, but at least you won't have to chew it first!
You can also try my raw garlic sucker recipe:
2 cloves of chopped garlic
1 tablespoon raw local honey
sprinkle of cayenne (optional)
Chop the garlic and sprinkle on top of a tablespoon of honey. Let this mixture sit for 10 minutes so that the allin activates into allicin. Suck on the mixture or swallow the whole tablespoon at one time.
10. Get Lots of Rest
Rest is crucial for preventing and coping with colds and flus. Sometimes you will get so sick that your body forces you to rest. That scenario is the least beneficial and proactive. The better plan is: get adequate rest all year long.
At the first sign of a cold or flu, start employing these 10 steps. All of these steps are helpful on their own, but a combination of a few of them will shorten or even alleviate your symptoms altogether. Don't wait until you are too sick to move; instead, pay attention and catch symptoms before they turn into a full-blown illness.
Carly Neubert BA, NC
For additional recipes, biohacking tips and lifestyle hacks -- check out my other blog on my coaching site www.cleancoachcarly.com! I post weekly about nutrition and lifestyle topics, all backed by science. Happy Reading!
I've been caught more than once talking about these tactics on the radio. Here's one of them if you're interested in learning more:
Winter Wellness Food Pharmacy with Carly Neubert
More ideas for stocking your Winter Wellness Pharmacy:
http://mbio.asm.org/content/5/2/e00013-14.full acetic acid in tuberculosis