Do you know what natural precautions to take that help prevent a cold or the flu? This article will outline 10 simple and natural steps to take to stay healthier this cold and flu season. Also, all of these suggestions work year round for maintaining a healthier body.
Both the cold and flu viruses are mainly passed to individuals through moisture droplets produced during conversation, coughing or sneezing. They can also be passed from touching something that has been contaminated. The following tips will cover both building up the immune system to be more resilient to the virus and preventative measures if you may have come in contact with the cold or flu virus.
The human body is a complex organism and as such, to approach healing and health in a holistic manner, multiple systems must be taken into account. For example, stress plays a big factor in the health of the immune system, as does obtaining necessary sleep, proper nutrition, and exercise. A holistic approach does not just alleviate the symptoms but seeks to restore balance within the whole system.
When the body’s defenses are weakened, infections (bacteria, viruses, or fungi) are able to manifest in the body. Fighting infection is best handled by building up the strength of the whole body.
Get Plenty of Rest
Our bodies need rest and of a sufficient quality and quantity. It is during sleep, when our body is at rest, that it is able to optimally rejuvenate and heal.
This sums it up: “Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, US came to the conclusion that people who sleep less than seven hours per night have a three times higher risk of catching a cold than those who shut-eye for eight hours or more.”
A large part of our body is comprised of water (55 – 70% by some sources). Water flushes harmful toxins out and is vital for the proper functioning of all body systems. The standard requirements state 8 glasses of filtered water daily but this will vary due to many factors; amount of exercise, body weight, climate, etc. I have found that by making sure I drink plenty of water, headaches have been non-existent. You will see differing opinions on this but water is the best way to hydrate. Caffeine (including sodas) and alcohol actually dehydrate the body. Juices can add unnecessary additional sugar to your diet. Herbal teas are also a good addition.
Dry Brush Skin
Our skin is our shield to the outside world. Keeping it healthy promotes a healthier body. Dry skin brushing is a great way to cleanse and promote a healthy lymphatic system, vital for our immune system and general well-being.
Brushing the skin before a shower or bath has numerous benefits such as helping with detoxification, removing dead skin (exfoliation) to open the pores, stimulating circulation, cleaning the lymph system and increasing cell renewal. With a dry, natural bristle brush, begin at the feet and work towards the heart stroking with gentle to moderate pressure. Be sure to cover all areas of the body up to the heart. Then begin at the hands and brush the arms. Start again at the neck and work again towards the heart until all areas of the body have been brushed. The first few times your skin may fill a little sensitive but will become accustomed to the brushing.
Use a Neti Pot
Nasal irrigation has been used used for centuries. Using a neti pot is a safe and effective way to flush excess mucus and other airborne allergens such as pollen or dust from the nasal cavity. During the drier months, a neti pot is helpful for keeping the nasal passages moist and healthy.
Eating healthy during the cold and flu season is one important step to take. We are what we eat and eating healthier will lead to a healthier body and stronger immune system. Skip the junk foods and reduce sugar consumption. As little as 1 teaspoon of sugar (from any source) can suppress the immune system for up to 4 hours. Reduce your meat consumption, your body has to work harder to digest meats. Add in more fruits and vegetables which will increase your intake of balanced vitamins and nutrients. Limit your intake of processed foods and dairy. Spend 20 minutes outside in the sun daily to increase your levels of vitamin D. Supplement with vitamin C and add zinc into your diet. Both garlic and onion have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties which will help fight infection and strengthen the immune system.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria that reside in the digestive tract. Increasing the healthy bacteria will reduce the unhealthy bacteria and lessen the load on the immune system. Yogurt and fermented foods contain the healthy bacteria or supplements are available.
Here is a great YouTube video by Dr. Joseph Mercola on the importance of probiotics, how it can help keep your digestive and immune system healthy and how to buy a good quality probiotic.
Moderate exercise is important to keep the body and immune system healthy. Exercise helps remove toxins from the body and cleanse the lymphatic system. Exercise is also a great way to reduce stress.
“A University of South Carolina study found that people who walked or did other moderate activity for 30 minutes most days averaged one cold per year, while less-active folks reported more than four colds per year.”
Stress is our reaction to any life event that upsets the body’s balance. Stress has become a major factor in all of our lives. If not handled properly, stress throws our bodies out of balance and into a state of dis-ease – not only physically but emotionally and spiritually. Stress reduces the immune system’s effectiveness.
There are many ways to reduce stress in our lives. A happy, positive attitude is one of the easiest ways. We all have the choice to live life from a positive or negative perspective. Turn off the media and reduce negative influences from your life. Stay away from the drama!
Take time for yourself, listen to relaxing music, meditate, immerse yourself in a hobby, enjoy nature, have body work such as massage or Reiki done.
Life is what you make of it. Change your thoughts, be happy!
If you are looking for a good laugh to change your attitude, here is The Onion’s list of tips for cold and flu prevention. (PLEASE these are a joke, don’t take them seriously but have a good laugh).
Wash Hands Often
This is common sense but a reminder never hurts. Germs can spread through contact with infected surfaces. Keep your hands washed often to cut down on the possibility of infecting your body with the cold or flu virus.
Don’t Touch Your Face or Eyes
Hands act as a bridge for germs. Don’t touch your face or eyes after being out and about. This can greatly increase your chance of the cold or flu virus entering your body.
For more information on maintaining a healthy body naturally and holistically, order my eBook, A Journey into Herbal and Natural Healing.