Cold and flu season is upon us! There are prolific ads on the radio for the flu shot, and I'm not convinced this is the best or only way to stay as healthy as possible during this time of year (and does nothing to address the more common cold bugs that get us down). Without debating the merits and demerits of vaccination, let's chat about other approaches.
Wash your hands, people! This is the number one way viruses get spread, so wash often and wash well. Cell phones are nasty, as are door handles ... really, just wash. I like washing my mucus membranes too ... my neti pot is a close friend this time of year. It can feel a little strange the first time or two, but once you get used to it, the feeling after is amazing! It's so helpful to rinse away the plethora of viruses floating around, and has the additional bonus of improving allergic symptoms too.
A recent study showed that regular exercise and meditation can help prevent colds and flus. How can this be? We're not exactly sure, but it could be that they help reduce stress, which can dampen the efforts of our immune systems. I challenge you to create space every day for physical activity (outside if possible ... there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices ...) and a practice of mindfulness. Check in if you're not sure what that looks like or how to implement it in your life. I've got lots of tips!
Fall and winter are great times to boost your intake of pungent and spicy foods and herbs - onions, garlic, sage, thyme, curry ... all teeming with antimicrobial activity that can help ward off the nasties. Eat up! Lots of veggies and seasonal fruits can ensure we get adequate vitamin C to support the action of our immune systems.
There are a range of herbs and other nutrients that can be taken to further help our immune systems recognize and deal with viruses and bacteria when hand washing isn't enough. Best to talk to someone in the know (your local naturopathic doctor??) about what is best for the particular needs of you and your family.
But likely, you will get sick.
It happens to the best of us. The best thing to do? Surrender! If at all possible, stay home, drink lots of nourishing, sugar-free fluids (herbal tea, broth) and get plenty of rest. Stay warm and keep an eye on your symptoms. The vast majority of winter colds and flus resolve on their own ... and there is some evidence that taking over-the-counter medications can actually prolong the process. If your symptoms don't appear to be getting any better, and definitely if they're more concerning than the usual cough and runny nose, talk to a health care provider! And if you find you're getting sick again and again, we can address that too.
You can layer onto that a range of foods, herbs and water therapies that can really improve symptoms (without slowing the healing process) and amp up your immune system's efforts. Come and see me to determine what will work best for your age (lots of great strategies for little ones!), lifestyle and individual illness! Hang in there!