The weather has gone completely haywire this year – and I don’t know about you but it’s been really hard on me both emotionally and physically. It seems like people all around me are catching small colds that are hard to shake off. But the good news is that practicing a little bit extra self-care can make a difference between a cold that lasts 3 days and one that feels like it will last forever.
Meds like Dayquil are so tempting because they feel like a quick fix but meds like this suppress the immune system actually prolong the cold. The fever, congestion and scratchy throat are a result of the body’s natural defense mechanisms.
Natural remedies that support the immune system may not provide immediate relief, but they will help in the long run. After all, succumbing to the sickness does give you extra nap-time (yes please!). So, how is your self-care routine adding up? See for yourself …
Sleep up! Sleep at least 8 hours per night with ample daily naptime. Sleep is incredibly restorative and should be an integral part of any plan to beat a cold. When we rest, we activate our parasympathetic (‘rest and digest’) nervous system that enhances healing and immune function. Studies show that restricting sleep increases our genetic expression of production of pro-inflammatory compounds that worsen symptoms. Just an excuse to cuddle up with that cashmere blanket and get some quality shut eye.
Follow Your Gut. Seventy percent of the body’s lymphatic system is located in the gut – so the quality of our diet and the state of our digestive health will have a big impact on our natural immunity. Eliminating dietary triggers like dairy and gluten are simple ways to lower inflammation for when you’re feeling under. Dairy produces mucous and is related to more congestion. Gluten is a highly inflammatory molecule - so much so that one of the symptoms of gluten sensitivity is a flu-like symptom. Do yourself a favor and scrap it for the week – bye bye saltine crackers!
Ditch the sugar. Sugar from simple carbs like crackers and fruit juice changes the metabolism of gut bacteria and compromises lymphatic health. It also competes with vitamin C for entry into white blood cells. So gulping down a glass of OJ may not be as beneficial as you think –I suggest grabbing some water and a vitamin C supplement instead.
Drink up! Optimal hydration is so important for stimulating lymphatic drainage and improving white blood cell function as well as protecting the respiratory tract from colonization from viruses. Limit the caffeine and enjoy your water and decaf tea to your hearts content!
Grandma’s chicken soup. Bone broth is a strange concept – while similar to chicken stock, it is cooked for much longer (18-24 hours). This begins to degrade collagen inside the bone and releases detoxifying amino acids and essential minerals that help to strengthen our viral defenses against strains of influenza. I often don’t have the patience to cook bone broth, which is why I feel so lucky that it is such a hip trend. If you live in New York try some from Brodo or Indie Fresh. Bon appétit!
Feel better soon!