Kick the Common Cold With These Easy Holistic Tips
Read Time: 2-3 Minutes
Winter is a great time for self care—with more time indoors and shorter days, this is the perfect time of the year to catch up on sleep, indulge in some at-home spa time, and recenter our emotions and thoughts. But along with coziness, this season can also bring colds—runny noses, sore throats, and overall malaise. Armed with a few natural preventatives and easy DIY remedies however, you’ll be better able to make it through the season without a single sick day. Below, we share seven of our favorite natural cold remedies.
Use ginger in everything.
Ginger is an easy, tasty way to amp up the flavor of your favorite foods and drinks while boosting your immune system. It’s great for clearing congestion and easing inflammation, helping to ease aches and general discomfort. Ginger also promotes circulation, warming up the body from the inside; this allows us to naturally detox while staying toasty and cozy. With antiviral and anti-fungal properties, ginger can even be used preventively to ward off colds and flus. Try grating about 2 teaspoons’ worth of fresh ginger into a cup of warm water, or add some to your tea of choice. This versatile root is also used in many Asian and Indian cuisines for a slightly spicy, herbaceous flavor. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Stock up on vitamin D.
Vitamin D—which we get mainly from animal-based foods such as salmon, egg yolks, tuna, and mackerel, and of course, from absorbing the sun’s rays—may help boost the immune system and prevent colds. In fact, one Harvard study showed that people with low levels of vitamin D were 36% more likely to get upper respiratory infections. Vitamin D also helps produce and regulate cathelicidin, a protein with antimicrobial, virus-fighting properties. If you’re not keen on the taste of fish or eggs, cod liver oil supplements are a great option; if you keep to a vegan diet, try lichen- or mushroom-based supplements.
Pay attention to your omega-3 intake.
Found in seafood, nuts, and seeds, omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. By increasing bacteria-eating phagocyte activity, these beneficial fats help keep our body free of harmful cold-causing cells and have even been shown to protect the lungs from respiratory infections and colds. Salmon and other seafood like mackerel and sardines are the most well-known (and some of the most potent) sources of omega-3s, but flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts are also packed with these healthy fats. Keep some nuts handy for easy snacking when battling a cold—they’ll boost your energy while also keeping your immune system strong. Fish oil supplements are an easy way to ensure you’re getting enough omega-3.
Sweeten your day with some honey.
As healthy as it is delicious, honey is packed with antioxidant, antiviral, and antibacterial properties, making it a great immune booster. By calming inflammation, its syrupy consistency eases sore or itchy throats and suppresses coughs. One study even showed honey to be more effective than dextromethorphan (a cough suppressant) and diphenhydramine (an antihistamine) in easing children’s nighttime coughs. Try adding organic, raw honey to your tea or warm water, or simply swallow a spoonful of the sweet stuff to ease a scratchy, sore throat.
This is an obvious one, but it’s crucial. Staying hydrated is key to overall health and immune functioning, allowing our bodies to better fend off viruses and bacteria. For most people, about eight glasses of water a day is enough to keep us feeling energized and refreshed. When battling a cold, stick with lots of warm fluids; they’ll clear mucus and ease a sore throat. For a boost of antioxidant-rich vitamin C, squeeze in some lemon, which has antibacterial and antiviral properties. And to make a truly delicious elixir, add a dollop of honey and a teaspoon of ginger to your lemon water for an even more powerful remedy. Steer clear of caffeine, which can further dehydrate you, and instead opt for sinus-clearing lemon ginger or peppermint tea, or soothing chamomile tea.
Eat simply and healthily.
It’s tempting to tuck into cookies or sweets when we’re at home lounging and healing, but sugar will only exacerbate cold symptoms, as it prevents white blood cells from fighting infections. Don’t forget the classic cold go-to—chicken soup (make sure to use organic chicken and stock). Aside from the warmth, which helps break up mucus and clear sinuses, chicken soup has actually been found to have anti-inflammatory properties (curious researchers put it to the test). If you love a good bowl of soup, also try making Okayu, a simple, soothing Japanese rice porridge. Munemi swears by this for battling a cold. Right before the rice is done, she adds in a whisked egg for protein and sustenance and tops it off with chopped scallions, grated ginger, and Umeboshi. Okayu is easy to digest and effectively warms the body.
Don’t skimp on the shuteye.
In today’s over-connected world, it’s hard to justify taking time to just, well, do nothing. But that’s exactly what you need when you’re fighting a cold. Pushing yourself too hard or trying to be the office hero isn’t going to get you anywhere other than sicker. Take the time your body needs to repair itself—get lots of sleep (the norm should be six to eight hours, but aim for at least eight when sick), and practice self-care. Skimping on rest will only prolong your cold and leave you feeling even more depleted. If you’re bed-bound but awake, most the most of a bad situation—start that book you’ve been wanting to read, put on some relaxing music, or watch a comforting movie. And remember to snuggle up; staying warm helps keep our immune system functioning at its best and keeps us cozy while recuperating.
Colds can be enervating, but with ample rest and a few simple, natural remedies, you’ll soon be feeling like yourself again. Hydration, sleep, rest, and simple, healthy eating are key—and a little self-care never hurt either—so make your bed super comfy, grab a good book and a cup of tea, and get resting.
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