It’s almost spring time… but alas, we’re not out of the woods concerning the flu season! With all this talk of the Corona Virus and the like, I thought it would be good to go over some simple tips to stay healthy. In no way can I promise you won’t get sick, but having a plan of prevention is better than dealing with the aftermath, which we will also address. Regardless, we all should make a conscious effort to thwart the spread of these germs any further!
10 natural ways to avoid getting sick:
1. Gut health. Say what? Yes, it’s a good place to start for better health in general! Believe it or not, but 80% of your immune system is in your gut microbiome. Diet is the best way to improve that! Eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables, including lots of dark leafy greens, berries, onions, and raw garlic. Fermented foods are also great because they contain probiotics and prebiotics.
2. Vitamin D! If you’re in Michigan and reading this, it’s highly likely you are LOW on this because of lack of sunshine. Talk to your health practitioner first, of course. 5000 IU’s a day is recommended if low. Of course, getting out in the sunshine is always best! An optimal range (between 50 and 100 ng/mL) may help prevent disease, including Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.), multiple sclerosis, and even breast cancer!
3. Take a high quality multivitamin daily. (You get what you pay for.) This can also help boost the immune system. While vitamins are not magic bullets, they can help support your body when used properly. Take the supplements that feel right for your body, and remember that what is right for you now may change, so trust your intuition.
4. Wash your hands! Oh my goodness, I can’t stress this enough! It’s the easiest way to prevent colds and flu and to keep from spreading them. Washing for AT LEAST 30 SECONDS is the most effective way. I know, just do it. Use plain old soap and water as warm as you can tolerate. Be sure to get the backs of your hands, in between your fingers, and under your nails. Then dry your hands thoroughly. Don’t go overboard with the antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer. (Personally, I recommend essential oils for sanitizing. Surely you have an “oily” friend or family member to hook you up!) And don’t allow yourself to get all “germ obsessed.” When your immune system is healthy, it will protect you.
5. Get enough sleep! It’s important to keeping your immune system functioning optimally. From personal experience, I recommend removing electronics especially your cell phone from the bedroom. Put it in the other room. Turn off the wifi at night too. Try it. You might be surprised at how well you sleep!
6. Clean your cell phone. It’s disgustingly filthy! Surfaces you touch frequently can harbor bacteria and viruses, such as rhinoviruses, for up to 48 hours! You can easily clean your phone with an antibacterial microfiber cloth and spray cleanser. Prepare a mix of 60% water and 40% isopropyl rubbing alcohol, which can be found at your local drugstore. Also, don’t use other people’s devices if you can avoid it.
7. Keep your sinuses moist. Dry air can cause dry sinuses, especially in the winter. Keeping them moist can help prevent symptoms such as pain and nose bleeds and can even help prevent colds. You can find saline nasal spray at any pharmacy. Using a neti-pot has been known to be very successful (I have yet to try it though!) Keeping the air moist within your home using a humidifier is also known to be helpful.
8. Exercise. It strengthens the immune system and makes you feel good! Don’t let winter be an excuse to not move! There are so many things you can do within your home that require no additional equipment. Of course, a treadmill is useful too.
9. Sauna. Some studies show that regular saunas can reduce your chance of getting a cold by 30 percent. One of the reasons is that a sauna-induced fever may stimulate the immune system to increase production of white blood cells and antibodies. (I might recommend hot baths with Epsom salts if you have no access to a sauna. Read up on the benefits of absorbing magnesium while taking Epsom salt baths!)
10. Exhale. This is not science but common sense. If you see someone coughing, hacking, or sneezing close by, don’t inhale and get away!! Try to slowly exhale until you are well out of range of the possible contaminants – about 10 feet.
10 natural tips on recovering quickly if you do get sick:
1. Eat light. Have you heard of B.R.A.T.? It’s bananas, rice, apple sauce, and toast. This is good to eat if you are recovering from an upset stomach or diarrhea. Adding certain spices to your food can help ease nasal congestion.
2. Vitamin C. It can do wonders to help you recover. You might consider keeping 1,000 mg capsules of ascorbic acid on hand. Take it as soon as you feel a sore throat or runny nose coming on. This is a worthy topic of further research I feel.
3. Echinacea. Echinacea (purple cone flower) has been used for centuries. Studies show it can reduce the duration of a cold and may help prevent the common cold.
4. Zinc. Taking zinc, either as a syrup or lozenge, through the first few days of a cold may shorten the misery of an upper respiratory issues. My husband swears by it.
5. Drink tea. Green tea throughout the day can boost immune function. Add lemon to help thin mucus. Honey to soothe a sore throat and fight bacteria that cause infection. Elderberry tea or extract is high in antioxidants and can help fight flu symptoms and shorten the duration by several days. You might also consider making a ginger tea by boiling some pure water, add a little grated ginger. Add honey and take sip regularly throughout the day.
6. Sip soup… or bone broth. Chicken soup is not only good for the soul, it can be good for your body. It contains amino acid (L-cysteine) that can ease bronchial symptoms. It also contains electrolytes and other nutrients. Bonus!
7. Gargle with salt water. Often. Doing this can ease your sore throat and may actually kill viruses and bacteria in your throat.
8. Do nothing. There are times when you should not treat symptoms. For example, fevers can clear your body of viruses and bacteria. If you have a fever under 102, avoid the urge to treat it. You may be uncomfortable for a day or two, but allowing your body to work the way it was designed is often the best thing. Many will take pain relievers then go about their day as they normally would. Avoid doing this! Your body needs rest to recover from illness. (This is old school advice. You need to use your own judgment. Letting mild fevers ride out is the body doing it’s thing naturally, and it boosts your immune system.)
9. Homeopathy. Homeopathic remedies work with your body to help it heal on a deep, energetic level. For colds and flu-like symptoms, try oscillococcinum (found at most pharmacies). This works whether or not you have been officially diagnosed with the flu to relieve some of the worst symptoms, including fever, congestion, sore throat, and body aches.
10. Manage stress levels. High stress can definitely have a negative effect on our health and healing.
In addition to the above, let’s just take a minute to go over some additional tips that you might find helpful. Be sure to cover this with your children as well!
· Stay home if you are sick. Keep your kids home too!
· Use a tissue, or cough and sneeze into your arm, not your hand. Turn away from other people.
· Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing or using tissues.
· Dispose of the tissues immediately.
· Sanitize door knobs, light switches, toilet seat and handle, etc.
· Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth, especially when out in public!
· Do not share cups, glasses, dishes or cutlery.
These are just some suggestions. Leave a comment if you think of something else not listed. Again, I am not a licensed physician. These are just common sense, tried-and-true practices that our grandparents followed back in the day… and most often they worked! I encourage anyone reading this to do their own homework and follow their own gut instinct, which is most often right. If at any time you feel the need to get professional care, by all means, please do so! Ultimately, you need to do what you feel is best for YOU!! If you feel led to get a flu shot, do that. I'm not here to tell you not to. That’s just not my thing. This is just what we do in our home and we’ve had great success. Be wise and be well.