“Sorry I can’t make it today! My muscles are aching, my throat’s sore and my head could explode”… Don’t you just hate when the flu symptoms sneak in and after the initial fight your body gives in? You call upon your old friend Paracetamol and the nights when you can hardly breath seem endless.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s winter, spring or autumn…when your immunity is low and stress levels are up, it’s an ideal combination to pick up a bug or two.
And while it’s natural to get sick on occasion, when you can’t count the number of colds you’ve had over the past few months, it’s important you take this as a sign.
Your body is telling you it needs some support in the defence department.
So when everyone around is coughing and sneezing, let’s explore how you can avoid getting your share and simply skip the next cold in line.
Your personal soldiers
Immunity is an armoured shield you have to protect you against bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. And as an orange has the peel protecting its precious core, you have skin working as the first line of defense against unwanted invaders. However, when it does happen and a virus passes through, your white blood cells (lymphocytes) step forward targeting the enemy head-on.
Lymphocytes are produced in the bone marrow. They move around your body in the blood or as part of the lymphatic system which allows them to do their work where needed.
What could make them work more efficiently? The tried and trusted… exercise! Because when your heart starts pumping faster, it speeds up blood flow allowing your health police to reach their target faster too! So, when you start feeling that cold is around the corner, a brisk walk or a gentle workout may help you get back on track before you need to lie down.
The main immunity centre
The biggest and deepest part of your immunity is right in the centre of the body, in your gut! Yes, the good guys living in your pipes, the microflora, are extra-protective against picking up colds and infections. But before you run to the nearest shop for some probiotics, let’s see what foods you can eat to take care of the good bacteria you already have.
The good bugs inside your gut can grow and strengthen your immunity if you feed them right. What do they like? They love fibre and a special starch found in beans. In one word, natural plant foods. In this case, they’re called prebiotics and you can find them in: leeks, garlic, onions, asparagus, oats, bananas, tomatoes, wholewheat and beans. And, by pampering your gut friends you’re also feeding the rest of your body with some of the healthiest foods you can find.
To read more about good bacteria you can refer to this post.
It’s likely that Vitamin C is the first vitamin that comes to mind when talking about colds and flu. In its natural form it’s one of the most powerful antioxidants and strongest disease fighting nutrients out there. It doesn’t only reduce your chances of getting a cold but when you already have it, it shortens your misery.
How much is enough?
No table or statistic can tell you how much of this vitamin you personally need. Your demand changes depending on how old or healthy you’re, as well as on the type of lifestyle you have.
When you’re stressed and sick, you need more vitamin C than during your calmer and healthier days. Sure, you can start taking some supplements, but you’ll support your body more when you rely on fresh fruits and vegetables instead. Why? Because in order to absorb vitamins, including C, you need bioflavonoids and various co-factors too. And these are already part of the whole food as nature made it.
When you take a vitamin C supplement, a large portion of the vitamin passes through your body without being absorbed. The optimal dose seems to be about 200 mg per day, meaning you hardly use the rest of 1000 mg of vit. C tablet.
On the other hand, when eating fresh fruits through the day, your absorption is more efficient while keeping a steady supply of this vitamin. So, enjoy some fresh peppers, kiwis, papaya, citrus fruits, pineapple, green leafy veggies and berries which are naturally rich in this vitamin. If you make them at least 3 of your 9-a day (and yes… it should be 9 and not 5), the colds have no other option but to give you a miss.
Symptoms are in
When the flu hits and you wake up with an itchy throat and aches in every muscle, listen to your body and take a break. Slowing down may be the last thing your jam-packed calendar will allow but it might as well be the most effective cure for your cold.
Think about your body as the ultimate book of wisdom giving you clues on how to become healthy. It’s not by accident that you’re feeling tired, in pain and running a fever. You simply need to take a break allowing your immune system to fight its own fight. The symptoms are there for a reason and by not paying attention or suppressing them they can flare up again when you least expect it.
Natural remedies work
Here, is a simple rescue plan you can use when you feel rundown:
- make a large bowl of fruit salad fused with lemon juice and a glass of berry smoothie to load up on vitamin C
- have a sandwich loaded with raw chopped onions (the more you can handle the better) and some garlic to burn the bugs out
- warm up with an onion booster soup topped with chopped fresh chillies
- pamper your good guys with a steaming bowl of bean stew finished with a couple of oranges
- to finish off, flush all down with a cup of rose hip or hibiscus tea to get an extra vitamin C
These are simple but effective cold-fighting strategies which can help you either resist a cold or speed up a recovery. And if combined with some extra sleep and rest, they work wonders.
Now I’d like to learn from you about what is your experience with cold and flu. Tell me in the comments below:
1. How often do you have to fight a cold or flu?
2. What is your own remedy for a speedy recovery?
Thank you so much for reading and now let’s get stronger together!