So you’re sick, and you want to feel better fast.
While there’s no magic wand that will cure a cold or the flu, there are things that you can do to rev up your immune system to heal more quickly, and feel better while you do it.
Common colds are generally caused by a specific virus called the rhinovirus, and we all know that the flu is short for an influenza virus. That means when we’re sick, we’re usually fighting some type of virus.
Colds can weaken your immune system, creating a breading ground for viral sinusitis or a secondary bacterial infection.
Keep in mind, that supporting our immune system consistently with nutrient rich foods is the best way to proactively ward off getting sick, but when the cold virus is strong enough, our immune system jumps into action and that’s when we feel the symptoms.
That being said, I’ve been mastering my routine to get over being sick for a few years and hope it helps you, too!
Fighting a Virus
Seeing as most colds and the flu are caused by viruses, it’s important to boost and support your immune system during cold and flu season, or if you get sick. The stronger your immune system is, the better your body will be able to fight the virus.
You’ll notice that a lot of my recommendations below have to do with gently assisting your digestive system. It’s estimated that over 80% of your immune function resides in your gut, so boosting your immune system has a lot to do with creating the healthiest gut environment possible. Your digestive system is completely surrounded by lymph tissue, which is your body’s first line of defense against disease. It’s also your cellular waste transport system and how your body rids itself of toxins. A healthy gut will support your lymphatic system and can boost your immune system. An unhealthy gut will compromise your immune system.
1. Try This Cold-Fighting Elixir
There are two parts to this elixir.
First, take one teaspoon of Manuka honey right off the spoon. Manuka honey is a special type of honey and a true superhero from nature. It’s not just folklore—Manuka honey’s healing properties are recognized worldwide even by mainstream medicine. Honey has been used for centuries to treat multiple conditions because it works. Not only does it protect against damage caused by bacteria, it can boost production of certain cells that can repair tissue damaged by infection. Raw honey also has a powerful anti-inflammatory action that can quickly ease pain and inflammation. However, even according to WebMD, not all honey is the same. The antibacterial and antimicrobial quality of honey depends on the type of honey as well as when and how it’s harvested.
Some types of honey, like Manuka honey, may be 100 times more potent than others(1). Manuka honey comes from New Zealand and is named after the Manuka plant from which the bees harvest this special honey. It’s even used in medical settings around the world to fight infection and boost healing. Needless to say, it’s one of the most impressive natural cold and flu fighters you can find. Science still isn’t completely sure how exactly it works, but it’s most likely the overall antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that make it so powerful. Since Manuka is only found in New Zealand and is strictly regulated to maintain its purity, it can be a bit pricey.
I find the best price at Thrive Market and always have Manuka honey in my cabinet for mild burns or skin lesions, a skin-soothing face mask, or to fight of any type of cold or flu. It’s important to consume it raw for the most benefits, so I never cook with it. Heating honey can destroy some of its enzymes, which isn’t always the end of the world, but in this case you want all of the supercharged healing properties of Manuka honey to go right into your system. If you can’t get Manuka honey, any type of raw (unpasteurized) honey will have some benefits.
After the honey, sip your favorite healing hot beverage to soothe your throat and thin and release mucus (gross but necessary.) The enzymes and vitamin C in the fresh lemon juice will also help boost your immune system. I like to stir what’s left of the honey into my tea for a little flavor. Choose peppermint tea to help clear your airways, or lemon balm if you want a mild herbal flavor. Lemon balm is a natural antiviral.
- Part 1: One to two times per day, take one full teaspoon of Manuka honey right off the spoon, then sip the hot drink below.
- Part 2: Combine hot water with a small squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a little Manuka honey (what’s left on the teaspoon), and muddled peppermint leaves or peppermint tea or lemon balm tea.
2. Reinforce Your Immune System
Along with the Manuka honey I mentioned above, take these supplements daily to give your immune system a kick.
Vitamin C: Some studies show that vitamin C can help you get over a cold faster (1). Take 400-600mg a few times per day.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a hormone that every cell and system in your body relies on, including your immune and digestive systems. Colds and the flu are most prevalent in winter and early spring, when people’s vitamin D levels are at their lowest. Take 2000-5000IU per day.
Probiotic: The ultimate gut health booster, a high-quality probiotic will help maintain the good balance of healthy gut bacteria in your digestive system. Probiotics—specifically Lactobacillus GG—are even given to children in pediatric facilities in developing countries to reduce the risk of infections (2). Take a high-quality probiotic once or twice per day.
Zinc: Some studies show that zinc can help you get over cold symptoms faster (1). I like to use a zinc and elderberry (another natural cold fighter) lozenge from the natural foods store.
Since common colds are generally caused by the rhinovirus, taking a natural antiviral may help.
- Echinacea Tincture (Virus Attack from Whole Foods)
- Lauricidin (The OG natural antiviral)
3. Sip Garlic Ginger Bone Broth
Bone broth is full of protein, vitamins, minerals and hydration that can help keep your energy up and heal your gut fast. Grate in fresh ginger or fresh garlic or both to supercharge its healing qualities. If you’re hardcore you can just eat or swallow the fresh ginger or fresh garlic, but if you’re like me this might not be appealing if you feel sick.
Bone broth is full of healing minerals and collagen, and sipping the hot broth can help decongest you and sooth your digestion. Fresh ginger and fresh garlic both contain powerful antimicrobial agents that are beneficial to your digestion and may help reduce the severity of cold or flu symptoms(4). Plus, the garlic and ginger together in the savory broth make for a yummy Asian-style flavor twist on plain old broth.
If you’re vegan, hot veggie broth with freshly grated ginger and fresh garlic can also help.
4. Eliminate Processed Sugars and Highly-Processed Foods
Ideally, you do this anyways, but it’s even more important when you’re sick. Processed sugars and highly-processed foods (traditional ice cream, sugary soda, fast-food, etc.) compromise the lining and health of your digestive system thus can weaken your immune system. If you feel well enough to cook, make a big pot of nourishing soup. I keep frozen bone broth in my freezer for quick meals, and it can be a lifesaver if you ever get sick and can get out of bed.
5. Take a “Get Better” Bath
A hot bath can soothe an aching body and help clear up your congestion. Adding a cup or two of epsom salts to your hot bath allow your body to absorb some of the magnesium for an even better muscle-calming effect. I also like to add a few drops of lavender essential oils for its relaxing qualities, and eucalyptus oil for it’s sinus clearing quality. Essential oils do not replace supplements, however they work on a sensory level and can promote feeling better. Use the ones you like best.
Get Better Bath:
- Bathtub full of hot water (duh!)
- 2 cups epsom salts
- 8 drops of lavender essential oil
- 5 drops of eucalyptus essential oil
I know I’m being Captain Obvious here, but even though this one is the easiest, it’s the one people try to skimp on the most. Your body can’t heal unless you rest. Staying up late to finish a project or making it to happy hour will just prolong the sickness. Reduce stress as much as possible and skip any extra events. Get as much sleep as possible to allow your body to heal more efficiently. This is probably the one time in your adult life that multiple mid-day naps are totally acceptable, so just enjoy them.
As I share in today’s article, having consistent nutrient rich food is vital for maintaining energy, health and vitality.
It can be a slippery slope, where weeks, turn into months, which turn into years of less than healthy food choices which cause us to have a variety of symptoms from headaches, to eczema, to anxious thoughts, to digestive distress, to impulsive outbursts and even allergies.
Each of these symptoms are a signal from our body that something is out of balance. If you or someone is your family is experiencing these symptoms more often than you prefer, sometimes it’s difficult to determine what (specifically) is the thing that’s getting in the way of you turning it around.
Perhaps we should talk. If you would like to have a better understanding of what’s going on, so you know what you can do about it, this is exactly what I discuss on my health history sessions.
It all starts with one free conversation to establish where you are in your life now, where you want to be, what’s gotten in the way of getting there, and what strategies you need to take to overcome those obstacles. A plan! Imagine that…;)
Maybe you could benefit from that conversation with me. There’s no charge for it whatsovever, and no icky sales tactics, promise. It’s a goodwill offering on my part. I can help you map out your health plan for 2019 and show you how to get there so you implement it fully.
Perhaps you too are unclear about what’s really getting in the way, [First Name]. If so, let’s talk, OK? Here’s where you can find a time that works for your for a free Strategy Call. Enjoy! xo