Five Powerful Natural Ways To Prevent Cold & Flu

prevent cold and flu

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It’s that time of year again. Cold and flu season will be here before you know it, and you need to be prepared if you want to reduce the chances you’ll catch something and minimize symptoms if you do.

As with any other illness, the best treatment is prevention. If you don’t catch it, you don’t get sick; so eating a healthy diet that keeps your immune system strong, washing your hands regularly, and avioding immune suppressants like sugar and junk foods is your first line of defense. If you do catch a cold or the flu, however; don’t despair, there are still plenty of things you can do to reduce your discomfort, minimize the chances of complications, and speed your recovery.

chicken soup for cold and fluBelieve it or not, chicken soup really is a good treatment for colds and flu. According to Science Daily; a 2000 study showed that chicken soup made with onions, sweet potato, parsnips, turnip, parsley, celery, carrots, salt and pepper inhibited one of the processes that causes inflammation. I’d add garlic, mushrooms, a bit of cayenne, some fresh ginger, and a slice of astragalus as well. These all have immune-boosting or symptom treatment benefits, or both (and besides, they make it taste even better.)

Drink plenty of liquids. Vitamin C rich fruit juices, hot herbal teas, green tea, chicken broth and water are your best choices. Avoid milk and other dairy products; they increase mucus production, thicken mucus, and make it harder to clear your lungs and sinuses; creating a virus-friendly environment for the germs you’re trying to get rid of. Sodas and energy drinks are the worst thing you can drink during a cold or flu, since they’re loaded with sugar, which supresses your immune system and counteracts the good you’re doing with your other treatments.

Vitamin C. Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-enhancing properties; as well as lowering histamine levels. Making sure you have adequate vitamin C intake can help fight off any germs you’ve been exposed to and prevent getting sick in the first place. If you do catch a cold or flu, increasing vitamin C to 2000 mg. a day can help you fight off the infection and ease symptoms. Esterfied vitamin C products are easier on your digestive system, but doses over 1200 mg. can still cause diarrhea in some people, so if this happens reduce your intake to 1200 mg. or less.

Zinc Lozenges. Zinc lozenges have been recommended by alternative medicine practitioners for many years to shorten the duration of a cold, and now there’s scientific evidence that they do. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine confirmed that zinc lozenges containing 5 mg. of chelated zinc shortened the length of a cold by an average of 3 days (participants in the study who got the zinc lozenges got better in an average of 4 days, while the placebo group took an average of 7 days to recover.) Do not use zinc for more than a week, and use only the lozenges. Nasal sprays and gels containing zinc can permanently damage your sense of smell.

Mushrooms. Shitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms have been used for centuries in Asia for their immune-boosting properties. Their active ingredient, beta-glucan, enhances the virus- and bacteria-eating potential of white blood cells, which speeds healing and reduces the chances of secondary infections. During a cold or flu, taking 250 mg a day of purified beta-glucan extract, or a concentrated medicinal mushroom supplement, can help you recover more quickly. Adding these mushrooms (along with oats, barley, and bakers yeast, which also contain beta-glucan) to your diet can also help to prevent infections in the first place.

Nasal Irrigation or Neti Pot. Finally, one of the best preventatives for colds and flu is using a “neti pot” or nasal irrigator to flush germs, allergens, and mucus from your sinuses and nasal passages. It sounds pretty gross, but it’s not as bad as it sounds, and it really helps reduce congestion. It will also help reduce the sniffling and sneezing caused by allergies, reduce the frequency of sinus infections (and may prevent them altogether,) and prevent sore throats caused by sinus drainage. Your neti pot will come with directions for use, but if you want to get started right away, and you have an ear bulb/syringe you can use that. (The neti pot is designed for this so it’s easier to work with, but if you want to try it before spending the money, or you’re already sick and don’t want to have to wait until you can get a neti pot, the ear bulb will make an acceptable substitute.)

  • Mix 1 cup of warm (body temperature) water, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt, and a pinch of baking soda until the salt and baking soda are completely dissolved. (If you’ve never done this before, start with the smaller amount of salt, and work up to the maximum as you get used to it.)
  • Pull your hair back into a ponytail, or put it up to keep it out of the way so that you don’t get the draining water and mucus into it, and fill your neti pot or ear bulb with the mixture.
  • Stand over the sink, lean your head to one side (do not tilt it back or the drainage will go into your throat instead of draining out of your nose) and insert the ear bulb into your upper nostril, squeezing gently and allowing the water to drain out of the other nostril.
  • Refill the ear bulb, tilt your head to the other side, and repeat the process to flush the other nostril.
This should be done once or twice a day for both prevention and treatment. (There’s a bonus to this treatment if you have recurring sinus infections, especially if it’s because they’re caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Keeping your sinuses flushed will make the environment much less hospitable for bacteria, and will wash out most of them. This will reduce the frequency of re-infections, and may prevent them altogether. It will also make any infections you do get less severe and easier to get rid of.)

If you think a neti pot will help you cure, or prevent, your flu, then you can buy a Neti Pot Sinus Cleansing System Starter Kit from Amazon by clicking the link.

Comments

  1. Stella Stanger says:

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  2. Ever since I saw Dr. Oz talk about it on the Oprah show, I’ve been thinking about getting A neti pot. Especially this time of year, my allergies get pretty bad. I might need to eat more mushrooms too. Thanks for sharing these tips!

  3. Also, never under estimate the power of hand washing multiple times throughout the day. And as a side note, I don’t have the info on the exact study, but there was a study that stands out in my mind from my clinical nutrition class in university which showed that Campbell’s chicken soup was more effective than home made chicken soup when it came to beating a cold. I appologize for not having the exact reference, but the results of that study have always stuck with me because I thought it was odd that (for once) the chemically enhanced version beat out the home made version (normally I would advise the natural or home made version of just about anything).

  4. I can attest that the Neti pot method works very well. I used to get numerous sinus infections each year, but they have been kept to a minimum with my use of the Neti pot. Plus, I breathe much better now.

  5. Thankyou.I learnt something more today.
    I have diabetes. Anything to fight high sugar level.

  6. I’m so glad I found your site. I found it on Homestead Survival FB page. LOVE your site and look forward to reading it with my coffee every morning. :o)

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