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If your mom told you to wear a hat or you will catch a cold growing up, you are not alone. While we are aware these days that the common cold is not caused by a drop in temperature, colder weather can create an environment that makes us more prone to colds and flu. It is the best time to strengthen your immune system and keep yourself healthy.
Cases of cold and flu peak in colder weather for several reasons (none of which has to do with going out without a hat):
- Cold weather drives people into the house, where it is easier to pass viruses from one person to another.
- Studies have shown that the viruses behind colds and rivers not only multiply better in cooler temperatures, but that our bodies fight them off better in warmer temperatures.
- Stress, including seasonal depression, can decrease our immune system’s ability to fight off viruses and make us more susceptible to illness.
While cold weather won’t cause your cold, it is certainly not the best way to avoid getting sick. However, there are natural ways to boost your defenses and boost your immune system so you can stay healthy. Here are three of our favorite natural solutions.
1. Eat Smart
Drinking orange juice or eating chicken soup when you have a cold are time-honored tricks for one reason: they really help! As you consume more vitamins and minerals, you can improve your body’s ability to fight off viruses and stay healthy.
While you can certainly take a multivitamin or a nutritional supplement, the vitamins and minerals you need are found in foods too. Dani Ferguson, a holistic nutritionist and founder of Detoxing with Dani, recommends adding rich sources of vitamins A and C, selenium, and zinc to your diet to improve your body’s ability to fight off viruses and keep you healthy.
- You can find vitamin C in red bell peppers, citrus fruits, guava, kiwi, strawberries, and papaya
- Find vitamin A in carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, and kale
- Find selenium in Brazil nuts, oysters, tuna, and shrimp
- Find zinc in oysters, bison, adzuki beans, and lentils
Thanks to its wealth of all these essential vitamins and minerals, elderberry is a superfood that has been clinically proven in two double-blind studies to reduce cold and flu symptoms. Benefit from our elderberry syrup recipe.
2. Look at tradition
Western medicine has not always prioritized clinical testing of the holistic remedies touted by traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine (see our guide to 7 Holistic Cold and Flu Remedies to Keep You Healthy All Season), but many of these techniques do Defense against colds and flu have stood the test of time.
Ayurveda primarily calls for increasing your intake of hot water, which, according to the old medical system, is not only easier for the body to absorb and increase hydration, but also flushes immunity-damaging toxins from your system. Researchers at the Common Cold Center at Cardiff University also found that hot water wards off colds better than cold water or room temperature water. So take a sip – and toss in a bit of lemon for a vitamin C boost.
Ayurveda also calls for supplements with adaptogens like astragalus to boost the immune system, a suggestion supported by a 2014 article in the journal Phytotherapy Research. Gaia Herbs makes a product made on their certified organic farm in NC, Astragalus Supreme, that keeps colds, flu and viruses at bay.
Traditional Chinese medicine has its own techniques for keeping colds and fluids at bay. In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, the causes of colds are divided into four categories: cold, wind, damp, and heat. Cold and wind are most common in winter. Both are traditionally warded off by supplementing with ginger and garlic.
The healing effects of ginger and garlic have been investigated in some modern studies: ginger has been shown to reduce inflammation, while garlic has antimicrobial properties. Kyolic’s Aged Garlic Supplement combines organically grown garlic with immune-boosting vitamin C and astragalus into a supplement that can help with storage
3. Find the balance
Some people try to take extra precautions during the winter by killing microbes before they can cause harm. However, the proliferation of antimicrobial detergents and hand gels can often do just the opposite.
“While this may seem like an obvious immune system support, they are actually doing no good to our bodies,” explains Ferguson. “Think of antibiotics as antibiotics that you apply to your skin. Not only do they kill the bad bacteria, but they also kill the good bacteria that live on your skin, helping to fight off bacteria and pathogens. When you kill the good bacteria, you actually make yourself more susceptible to disease. “
Instead of trying to kill the microbes that contribute to the disease, take care of yourself. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyles can make us more prone to disease and when we address this issue we do our best to stay healthy.
However, during times of high cold, flu, and / or virus, as in the case of the COVID-19 or H1N1 viruses, washing your hands and not touching your face is a smart way to prevent you from getting sick become.
“When we are in a constant state of stress, our immune system works overtime believing there is a danger that needs to be dealt with,” explains Ferguson. “However, when this stress persists for long periods of time, from acute stress to chronic stress, our body inflammation increases and the immune system becomes tired and unable to fight off a real threat when this happens.”
She suggests reducing stress through yoga, meditation or a peaceful walk (bundled up of course!). A sip of hot infusions of some of the immune boosting ingredients mentioned above might not hurt, and some of the supplements listed below might also not be tested, especially if you need extra immune support.
Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract Formula 103 Immune Formula (100 Capsules) Odorless organic garlic supplement with Astralagus and Vitamin C, soy gluten free, gentle on the intestines Garlic pills $ 12.22
Gaia Herbs Astragalus Supreme, Vegan Liquid Capsules, 60 Count – Deep Immune Support and Stress Resistance, with Antioxidants $ 19.41
Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C, 0.2 fl oz. – 30 packages | 1,000 mg of vitamin C per pack | Encapsulated liposome for maximum bioavailability | Professionally formulated | 100% GMO-free, ultra-strong vitamin C | 1,000 mg of essential phospholipids per pack $ 36.95
Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc (with Vitamin C) | 60 vegan capsules | 30 mg vitamin C and 15 mg zinc per capsule Non-genetically modified project verified | $ 10.49
Go nutrients selenium liquid drop | 1 ounce bottle | 200 µg selenium per 6-drop serving made with vegetable glycerine | yeast free | $ 19.49
Urban Moonshine Immune Zoom with Echinacea and Elderberry | 8.4 fluid ounce bottle (contains 50 servings with one teaspoon) | USDA Certified Organic | gluten free | $ 38.97
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