Welp. It's that time of year again. Time to figure out what your strategy is going to be in order to avoid catching a cold. If you've ever wondered why it seems like more folks end up coughing and sneezing during the fall and winter seasons than any other time of the year, blame it on our noses. Our noses actually help to trap a lot of the viruses that try and invade our systems. But when the temperature drops, the cold air cools down our nasal passages, slows down the production of mucus (which is there to fight and remove infection), making us more vulnerable to getting sick.
Personally, I am not big on the whole over-the-counter drugs approach to handling a cold. To me, it's all about being as proactive as possible by finding natural and holistic ways to prepare my body for the germs that want to try and slow me down.
If this is the time of year that you always dread because, it's almost guaranteed that a cold will be coming your way, here are 10 things that you can do to build up your system and knock out the cold-causing viruses before they become too much of a nuisance or health issue.
1. Pour a Little Bit of Peroxide Down Your Ears
Although I don't get sick often, about twice a year, I'll feel a sore throat coming on. For me, that's always a sign that I'm about to catch a cold that I totally don't want. You've probably heard before that one of the best ways to nip the beginning stages of a cold or flu bug is to pour some hydrogen peroxide down both of your ears. Sis, when I tell you it works…it works.
All you need to do is get some that is three percent grade (which is what's usually at your local grocery store or pharmacy), pour about a capful of the solution into the bottle's top, tilt your head and pour it in. You'll immediately hear some bubbling and popping which means that it's cutting through your ear wax and cleaning out the infection that is trying to get you sick. Keep your head tilted for about five minutes and then grab a tissue to collect whatever fluid is left. Do the same with your other ear and you should notice a significant change within 12 hours or so. I know I always do. (If you want to read more about this, you can by clicking here.)
2. Eat Phytochemicals
This is the time of year when sugar and alcohol are in abundance. Just keep in mind that moderation is key because, if you consume too much of either, that can trigger candida in your gut which could end up weakening your immune system. Instead, swap out the sugar cookies and spiked eggnog for some phytochemicals. What the heck are they? They are active compounds, found in plants, that are loaded with vitamins C and E to strengthen your immunity while giving you more energy in the process. Some foods that are loaded with phytochemicals include grapes, cabbage, garlic, cauliflower, tomatoes, broccoli and red wine.
3. Eat Some Antioxidants Too
If you've ever wondered what antioxidants actually do, in a nutshell, they are molecules that fight free radicals that seek to damage the cells within your body. So, you can probably see why it's such a good idea to eat as many as possible if you want to keep from catching a cold. Some foods that are packed with antioxidants include blueberries, beets, spinach, kale, carrots, citrus fruits and dark chocolate.
4. Consume Probiotics
Something that a lot of people don't realize is about 80 percent of our immune system is located inside of our gut. The healthier it is, the stronger our systems are and the easier it is to fight off germs, viruses and infections. One way to keep your gut health on-point is to consume probiotics.
You can do this by eating fermented foods like pickles, kefir, miso, kombucha and sauerkraut and/or taking a probiotic supplement. If you decide to go the supplement route, make sure that it is a multi-strain kind that contains no less than 25-billion units. That way, you'll know that it's truly effective.
5. Drink Bone Broth
Who didn't have chicken soup when they were sick as a child? If you ever wondered why that seemed to be such a miracle cure, it was mostly due to the broth that was in it. Now that you're grown, one of the best ways to keep a cold at bay is to make your own bone broth. It contains amino acids like arginine and glutamine to boost your immune system, L-glutamine to reduce inflammation (and promote weight loss), electrolytes to increase hydration, properties to reduce gut bacteria, and the amino acid cysteine. Why is that relevant? Believe it or not, on the chemical tip, it actually resembles the bronchitis drug acetylcysteine. Since close to nine million Americans get bronchitis each year and women contract it twice as much as men, that's just one more reason to whip some homemade bone broth up. (You can get a great bone broth recipe here.)
6. DIY Some Antibacterial Wipes
When you stop to think about where germs are in abundance, places like kitchens and bathrooms are a given. But germs are also plentiful on doorknobs, in your make-up, on your smartphone, at ATMS, on grocery carts, on your keys, and in your purse and wallet. That's why it's so important to keep your hands clean as much as possible.
One way to do that is to wash them. Another way is to use antibacterial wipes. Since more and more research is revealing that regular soap is about as effective as the antibacterial kind, if you want to use an antibacterial wipe that has as little unnecessary chemicals as possible, why not try your hand at DIY'ing it? All you basically need is some vinegar, detergent and lavender essential oil and you're basically good to go. (You can get step-by-step instructions by going here.)
7. Apply Some Citrus Essential Oils
Personally, I'm a huge fan of essential oils, so I had to make sure that I gave some of them a shout-out. If you don't already have some citrus essential oils in your collection, now would be the time to get 'em. Ones like orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit and bergamot are ideal for cold and flu season for a myriad of reasons. They contain antioxidant properties that fight off free radicals. They are able to clear out germs while boosting your immune system. And, if you need to suppress a cough, lime essential oil is especially able to do just that.
As far as the best ways to apply citrus essential oils, you can do one of the following—pour some of the oil into a diffuser in order to purify the air, put some oil into a spray bottle for quite the immunity (and energy) pick me up, or you can combine citrus oils with a carrier oil (like grapeseed, avocado or sweet almond oil), warm the combo up and give yourself a soothing chest and back massage. Don't be afraid to mix some of the oils up too. The more the merrier when you're trying to prevent a cold from coming on.
8. Also Drink Some Horehound Tea
Although it's not a type of tea that you hear about on a daily basis, this is the time of year when you should definitely store up on some horehound tea (or horehound tea leaves). Not only is it a tea that contains iron, potassium, vitamins A, B-complex, C and E, horehound tea also has the powerful medicinal properties that are found in the bitter marrubiin plant. All of these things work together in order to keep your digestive tract healthy, lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels and even ease menstrual cramps. Plus, if you feel the onset of a cold coming on, the properties in horehound tea will thin out the mucus in your lungs, soothe your sore throat, ease congestion in your nose, act as an expectorant, and also reduce inflammation throughout your body. Get the tea here. Get some of the loose leaves here.
9. Use a Dehumidifier
One of the reasons why a lot of us are more susceptible to colds is because we're indoors a lot more and there can be as much as 10 times more air pollution inside than outside. One way to keep indoor air pollution to a minimum is to invest in a dehumidifier.
The reason why this is such a good idea is because dehumidifiers are designed to pull moisture out of the air. As a result, less germs and allergens that could get you sick are floating around. Some other bonuses are they help to keep mold out of your clothes, odors out of the air and dust from irritating your respiratory system and collecting on your furniture.
Depending on how you look at it, I saved the best for last. I say that because something else that can reduce your chances of getting a cold is exercise. Even though the cold weather may tempt you to not be as consistent when it comes to your exercise routine, if you don't want to catch a cold, this is actually when you should be working out more than usual. When you exercise, you increase the circulation throughout your body. When that happens, antibodies are able to flow throughout your bloodstream quicker, making it possible for your immune system to work harder and more effectively.
So, even if it means spending more time at home on your treadmill or with your exercise ball, make sure to devote 30-45 minutes, three days a week to doing some cardio (and a little weight training). Your body will love you for it. Cold germs will hate you for it. And all will be right with the world.
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