Grogginess, a sore throat, a stuffy nose...we all know the signs of an oncoming cold. The fall season is rapidly approaching, which means cold and flu season is, too. Between work, school, and seasonal outdoor activities like apple picking, no one has the time to be bed-ridden and feeling under the weather! We've put together a list of the 5 best things you can do the moment you start experiencing the symptoms of a cold so that you can make the most of your season without running for the tissues and throat lozenges!
Staying hydrated is key to keeping your body healthy during a cold because we become vulnerable to dehydration when we are sick. Even the most simple cold symptoms - such as a runny nose or feverish sweats - drain our bodies of vital fluids. Drinking water helps to replace those fluids, as well as to break up mucus, relieve congestion, flush toxins out of the body, and soothe a sore, dry throat.
Food is Mother Nature's medicine - if you consume the right foods, that is. Eating healthy by piling up on foods that boost the immune system and fight cold-causing bacteria and viruses is the best approach to avoiding sickness.
Herbs such as garlic and turmeric possess strong anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antioxidant properties which help to fight bacteria and viruses, as well as rid the body of any harmful toxins.
The immune system is made up of proteins, so eating sufficient amounts of protein helps to boost the body's defense against illness. Proteins like beef, chicken breast, egg yolks, nuts, and low-fat dairy foods help to strengthen the immune system because they are high in zinc, which keeps white blood cells healthy.
Citrus fruit, as well as dark greens like spinach, kale, and arugula, are packed with Vitamin C, which can reduce the duration of a cold and boost the immune system.
On average, our bodies need about 7-8 hours of sleep in order to keep our cells' immune response healthy so that they can efficiently fight off viruses and sickness.
Stress and fatigue trigger your adrenal glands to release cortisol, a stress-reducing hormone. However, high cortisol levels in the body can greatly weaken the immune system - making you vulnerable to illness. If you start to feel under the weather, take it easy, make sure that you are getting enough sleep, and refrain from taking on a large workload - your body will thank you.
Gargling with salt water can soothe a sore throat and help to break up mucus. The salt extracts water from tissues in the throat, therefore reducing inflammation and clearing any irritants, bacteria, viruses, or other toxins out of the throat. A study conducted by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that people who gargle with salt water three times a day are less likely to fall victim to the common cold and other illnesses.
Adding honey to tea is a great way to combat a cold. Hot tea can help to break up nasal congestion, while honey is a strong antioxidant that aids in immune function and contains strong anti-inflammatory properties that can calm a sore throat. Additionally, honey is a natural cough suppressant - In fact, a 2007 study by Penn State University found that honey is more effective in cough relief than dextromethorphan, a common ingredient in many over-the-counter cough syrups.