There are a lot of precautions we can take in our daily lives to avoid getting sick, unfortunately, sometimes it is unavoidable. Catching a cold or the flu is particularly prevalent during the winter months, as people spend more time indoors with the windows closed interacting with others who may already be carrying the infection.
As colds and the flu are usually the result of a virus, they cannot be cured or prevented by taking antibiotics or other over-the-counter medicines. It is therefore important to build immunity to help fight infection.
Here are a few simple tips to help you get over the virus and stay fit and healthy all year round.
1) Drinking Plenty of Fluid
Drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water, is critical to recovering quickly when you have a cold or the flu. Fluids will help keep you well hydrated so your body can continue to function properly. It will also help to thin and extract the mucus in your nose and relieve respiratory congestion.
Seek: water, soup, broth, juice, herbal teas
Avoid: coffee, black coffee, soft drink, alcohol
2) Steam Inhalation
The inhalation of steam vapour is one of the most widely used natural remedies you can do at home to reduce the symptoms of a cold or the flu. It will help to soothe and open the nasal passages and get quick relief. All you have to do:
- Boil a kettle full of water
- Carefully pour the boiling water into a large bowl, or into the bathroom basin
- Add 3-4 drops of Kunzea, Eucalyptus Essential Oil, or 2-3 drops of our Breathe Easy Lifestyle Essential Oil Blend
- Cover the bowl for 10-15 minutes to let it steep
- Close your eyes and cover your head with a towel. Lean over the bowl at a comfortable distance (approximately 20cm)
- Inhale through your nose for 4 to 5 minutes (Max 10-15 minutes)
Warm baths with essential oils and magnesium bath salts will also help to relieve sore and tired bodies that accompany a cold or flu.
3) Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Zinc
It’s common to hear that having Vitamin C can boost your immune system, and recent research verifies the importance of Vitamin C intake, particularly when you are unwell. It may not stop you getting sick, although there is evidence to support the theory that high doses of Vitamin C may help shorten the duration of symptoms.
Some common foods high in Vitamin C include; oranges, grapefruits, capsicum, strawberries, tomatoes, pineapple, broccoli, pawpaw and guava. Alternatively, a high dose of Vitamin C powder in the early stages may help treat a little more aggressively.
Vitamin E is also a powerful antioxidant and research has shown that it may help immunity and reduce the chance of becoming infected with colds or flu. Foods rich in Vitamin E include; leafy greens (e.g., spinach, broccoli), almonds, sunflower seeds and vegetable oils.
Zinc is also one of the most critical minerals for immunity that many people appear to be deficient. Zinc lozenges can be great, particularly to stop the throat worsening and to soothe the mucous membranes.
Garlic is not just for warding off vampires, it is also very important in helping to reduce and prevent symptoms of cold and flu. Adding garlic to your diet is an easy and natural way to take action against those persistent seasonal sniffles.
Have you tried roasted garlic soup? A healing and delicious dish during winter!
5) Ginger & Honey
It’s always good to have some ginger and raw honey stocked up in your pantry - as they are common, all natural remedies that are not only great for relieving sore throats during winter, but they are also two ingredients that should be core to all healthy diets.
Slicing some ginger root into boiled water and drinking as a cup of tea can soothe irritated throats. Honey can be put with anything from tea to a piece of toast to a simple teaspoon full.
Eating local raw honey during spring can also help to decrease allergy symptoms.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are often referred to as "healthy bacteria", as they can assist in rebalancing the bacteria in our body. Probiotics modulate the intestinal microbial flora and help boost immunity. This function has led to probiotics being linked to a wide range of health benefits, particularly in aiding digestion and the gut, and enhancing the immune system to help combat illness.
In addition, probiotics may also help reduce depression and promote heart health.
Getting your probiotic intake from supplements is a popular option for many, however, you can also get them from some fermented foods. Some common foods that contain probiotics include yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, miso, pickles and kombucha.
Naturally Fighting those Seasonal Sniffles
In addition to the six recommendations above, two of the best ways to prevent viral illness all year round are to eat nutritious food and maintain a healthy lifestyle. We can not control what happens to us but we can control what we put into our mouths.
Eat well, stay healthy.
About the Author - Michelle Brass ND
With over 25 years of experience in the natural health industry, Michelle has dedicated her life to helping others embrace the therapeutic benefits of nature. Throughout her time as a health practitioner, she has used and recommended countless traditional and conventional treatments to her clients - as she believes an integrative approach to health and wellness is very important. Michelle’s is passionate about using and promoting essential oils and, in particular, Kunzea Oil, as she has seen them help thousands of people over the years. She knows that using essential oils in your daily life can help bring balance to the mind, body and soul. She is constantly trialling and testing new products with her loyal clients.