If there’s one thing that we can all agree upon, it’s that no one likes being sick. Cold and flu season is here again friends and while it may seem like the inevitable to prevent, we could not disagree more. From prevention to even shortening the duration of your cold, we have a few tricks up our sleeve that we’re ready to share with you. After all, health and wellness is the name of our game.
It all starts with that scratching, tingling feeling in the back of your throat and before you know it, you’re emailing your office that you’re stuck in bed. Colds usually come on when our immune system is depressed, making it easier for the virus to take over. It may not be the easiest to know when your immune system is down, however, there are a couple factors to keep an eye on that will make a big difference.
First and foremost, underlying medical conditions such as HIV, AIDS, asthma and diabetes directly and adversely affect the immune system. If any of these conditions are not properly being kept in check, you can count on your immune system being rundown.
The second easiest way to leave your immune system defenseless is sleep deprivation. When you are not letting your body get enough quality sleep a day, your immune system can’t keep up with warding off toxins.
Lastly, poor nutrition, especially too much sugar, suppresses the immune system leaving your body defenseless to fight off infections. Have you ever spent a weekend depriving yourself of sleep while possibly drinking a little too much and then ended up sick the following week? Too much sugar and not enough rest were the likely the culprits.
It’s also important to note that 70-80% of your immune system is located in and around your gut. So, it’s particularly important to make sure that your gut health is in tip top shape during cold and flu season. The easiest way to boost gut health is to take a probiotic. We recommend this one.
If you’re keeping your immune system in check and avoiding the opposing factors mentioned above, you’re already one step ahead of the game. Prevention really is the easiest way to ward off infections. Basic efforts like maintaining good hygiene, exercising regularly, keeping a tidy home, keeping stress to a minimum and washing your hands frequently are key factors that should be done on a daily basis.
Aside from basic efforts, antioxidants are a great tool for preventing infections. Antioxidants work by targeting free radicals called oxidants that cause cell damage. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) units are how antioxidants are measured, the higher the ORAC value, the more absorption of these free radicals. Antioxidants are great all year round but really shine during cold and flu season as some can actually shorten the duration of sickness. If you’d like to look up the ORAC value of an ingredient, check out Superfoodly for the most accurate values.
There are also quite a few herbs, spices and superfoods that you can take to boost your immune system during cold and flu season. Many of them come jam packed with antioxidants. Below are a few of our favorites to try this season.
Medicinal mushrooms like chaga and reishi have some of the highest antioxidant values on the planet. They’re over 40 times more powerful than acai berries and over 1,000 times more powerful than blueberries. The easiest way to take them is in a capsule, we personally recommend trying these. If you’d like to know more about the amazing benefits of medicinal mushrooms, we have a full blog post dedicated to these beauties so click here.
Thyme is one of the best antioxidants to fight off and prevent infections. It holds a top ten spot on the highest ORAC value list of foods that have been tested. Thyme contains a powerful antiseptic called Thymol that has been used many years before modern antibiotics were. In fact, many name brand mouth washes still use Thymol to this day for it’s amazing qualities.
Garlic really is the go to when it comes to colds. It contains a powerful antimicrobial component called allicin that offers a safe, natural treatment when it comes to fighting infections, especially colds. The best way to reap the benefits of garlic is to eat it raw. Heating garlic at high temperatures can destroy allicin making it ineffective.
Elderberry has a great ORAC value that provides you with adequate antioxidants as well as the ability to fight infections. Many studies have been done to find that elderberry can actually shorten the duration of the flu by a few days. Elderberry has also been found to relieve congestion caused by infections by helping to reduce swelling in the mucus membranes.
Echinacea is another miracle worker that boosts the immune system and also has the ability to shorten infections by a few days. Because of its effective antiviral and antibiotic properties, it actually has the power to completely destroy certain viruses. Echinacea can be taken in tablets, capsules or made into tea.
Don’t let a cold keep you down this season. Stay healthy and happy this winter and remember that prevention is the best defense when it comes to cold and flu season.
Tell us your go-to remedies for fighting off a cold, we love hearing from you!
The Blendtopia Team