It is the season when colds and flu are their most active, but what steps can we take to prevent our colds from getting us down? We often hear about ways to boost our immune system, but what happens when you have a cold, are there things we do that can make the cold worse? Here are my do’s and don’ts when you have a cold to help you sail through this winter with ease.
Ditch the Dairy
Avoid: Dairy is very mucus forming, which can make your cough, throat and congested nose much worse. Give your body a helping hand by ditching the dairy to help break down and eliminate the mucus.
Fill Up: Keep hydrated which will help to break down mucus making it more efficient at trapping the virus and breaking it down, as well as flushing the body of toxins, aiding repair. I would highly recommend New Era Q from PowerHealth’s for those who have inflammation of the mucus membranes such as catarrh or sinus disorders. Fill up on lots of green leafy vegetables to keep your calcium intake up.
Limit the Sugar
Avoid: We know too much sugar is bad for us, especially our teeth and our waistlines, but you may not be aware of how it negatively affects our bowel flora, feeding the bad bacteria, allowing it to thrive and in turn, reducing the efficiency of our immune system. Sugar is also very inflammatory, making it harder for your body to overcome the cold.
Fill Up: Opting for a low sugar diet will help give your bowel flora a boost, alongside good prebiotic foods such as sauerkraut, yoghurt, kefir and vegetables such as onion, leeks and garlic as well as supplementing with a good quality probiotic.
Antibiotics Don’t work for Virus’s
Avoid: You may feel rotten and want to take a pill to make everything ok, but antibiotics do not work for virus’s and in the long-term can actually make your resistant to the antibiotic, meaning when you do need it, it wont work. Antibiotics also strip our bodies of our healthy gut bacteria, which in turn lowers our immune systems.
Fill Up: Let nature takes its course and work with your body to combat the viral infection. There are many natural remedies that can work to help support the body whilst fighting a viral infection. Zinc is a great anti-inflammatory and are great not just to soothe the throat but can also attack the virus and has been shown, alongside vitamin C, to shorten the length of the infection. You should also consider tissue salts, especially New Era J from PowerHealth for more general cold symptoms including nose, throat and chest.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
Avoid: This sounds obvious but there are measures we can all implement to help prevent catching the common virus in the first place as well as preventing the cold coming back to you! Good hygiene is absolutely key to stop colds and flu spreading.
Fill Up: Always use disposable tissues and sneeze into these and not your hands! Always wash your hands and antibacterial hand to prevent the spread of germs.
Rest and Relaxation
Avoid: You are not invincible, you need to listen to your body. When you have a cold or flu the last thing you need is to fight it by pushing yourself too hard, it will just prolong the cold and flu and lower your immune system even further.
Fill Up: Rest and relaxation is key to allow the body to repair itself and fight infection. Getting a good night’s sleep is absolutely vital. Resting when you can and slowing down will give your body the chance to overcome the infection quickly.
Don’t Mix and Match
Avoid: It is very tempting when you are feeling rough to just grab as many over-the-counter pills to enable you to push through and continue to work whilst having a cold or flu, but you do need to be careful as it is very easy to overdose on certain products. Many cold and flu remedies contain caffeine and a decongestant, but you can also take a decongestant for a blocked nose and a cough remedy to break down mucus, be careful as these can all target the same thing and you can be overdosing on the decongestants. Research also shows that 3-4 days of decongestant can actually cause the membranes in the nose to swell even more, making it counterproductive to take them for too long.
Fill Up: If you are taking a decongestant for a blocked nose or mucus-breakdown cough remedies, ensure you only take a standard paracetamol and not a cold and flu remedy containing additional decongestants. You can take paracetamol for pain and ibuprofen for inflammation but it is advisable to check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are on any other medication to ensure there are no contraindications, especially when taking cold and flu or decongestant remedies.
Keep It Real
Avoid: When you are feeling rough it is hard to resist comfort food, especially processed and sugary treats, but you need to be careful as these foods can be counterproductive, not only lowering your immune system, but can make your body more congested and less able to fight infection.
Fill up: Nature has given us an abundance of powerful foods, all able to boost immune system and fight infection so ditch the junk and opt instead for a colour plate of real food. There are a number of immune-boosting supplements you can take prior to the winter months and to continue these throughout, but don’t think these will offset a bad diet, they won’t. Vitamin C is extremely helpful when fighting infection, so at the first sign of a cold be sure to increase your intake by eating plenty of berries, citrus fruits, papayas, broccoli and red peppers which will help keep you protected.
Re-evaluate your lifestyle Choices
Avoid: Smoking, stress, too much caffeine, too much alcohol and not enough fresh air can all make colds and flu worse. Smoking not only affects our lungs, it also depletes the body of vitamin C. Stress can also lower the immune system, making it harder to fight infection. Too much caffeine and alcohol can dehydrate the body, making it harder to break down mucus, fight infection and clear the cells of toxins. We spend our time in central heated houses, which is the ideal breeding ground for viruses.
Fill Up: Stop smoking, learn to de-stress, avoid too much caffeine and alcohol and spend time outside, getting some fresh air. All of these measures can help speed up your healing process and fight infection.