15 Remedies to Curb a Cold

15 Remedies to Curb a Cold

 

'Tis the Season of the Immune System 

Sick in bed

Supporting your immune system is always in style, but it is especially stylish as we enter these colder months. The immune system is our body's defense to viruses, fungi, and bacteria that threaten the health of our bodies. It is a complex system of organs and substances: white blood cells, bone marrow, appendix (yes, really), tonsils, thymus, spleen, lymphatic vessels, and blood serum factors, just to name a few. All working together to keep us healthy. Until the day a foreign invader decides to be a hero and take us down for 4-7 days during the worst possible time. Lucky for us, there are many ways (15 of them listed here) to prevent an immune system failure through lifestyle, diet, and home remedies.

Support with a healthy lifestyle:

1.     Stress management: 8 hours of sleep, deep breathing, taking time for yourself (a.k.a, self care), etc. 

2.     Exercise: Sweat and get moving 3-5 days/ week for about 30 minutes. 

3.     Diet: Generally, follow a diet low in sugar, high in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables with adequate protein. Remember to stay hydrated with about 64 oz water/ day!

4.     Appropriate use of herbs and nutritional supplements. Key word: APPROPRIATE. Herbs and supplements should be taken with educated intention. If you are taking any herbs and/or nutritional supplements, make sure to educate yourself on the effects and seek guidance from a professional. There are a lot of powerful supplements out there that can cause more harm than good when it comes to your immune system. 

5.     Remove environmental toxins: Household chemicals, mold, antibiotics, pesticides, food additives, etc. [1]

When in Doubt, Remember the ACESZ!

Vitamin A (carotenoids, beta-carotene, retinol, etc.) maintains the body’s mucous membranes. Animal sources of Vitamin A are up to 6 times more potent than vegetable sources. Food sources: animal livers, red, yellow, green fruits and vegetables. 

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Vitamin C is essential in the formation of adrenal hormones and lymphocytes. In combination with bioflavonoids, Vitamin C has a killer effect on bacteria and viruses. Food sources: abundant in fruits and green vegetables, including: berries, citrus, avocados, brussels sprouts, mangoes, and spinach.

Vitamin E is the primary antioxidant needed to combat free radicals and maintain cardiovascular health. The fat soluble vitamin is found in cold pressed oils (olive oil), nuts and seeds, eggs, and whole grains.

Selenium acts as a component of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase. It works with vitamin E to prevent free-radical damage, inflammation, and pre-mature aging. Food sources of include brazil nuts, fish, eggs, and wheat germ. However, selenium is not lacking in most soils and therefore food, so it may be necessary to supplement. RDA of 200 mg/ day is recommended.[2]

Zinc gives the immune system a big boost by promoting the healing of wounds. Food sources of zinc include: brewer’s yeast, oysters, legumes, and seeds. 1


 

Beware of Sugar! Studies show that consuming more than 75 grams of sugar can greatly suppress immune function by impairing the activity of white blood cells and lymphocytes.[3]

 

5 Foods to Have on Hand:  

If you’re like me, the last thing you feel like doing when your sick is... well, doing anything other than binge Netflix and roll over. The catch is that when we are sick, that is the time we need to show up for ourselves the most. You can save yourself some time and energy by being prepped and ready for a cold. I urge you to keep these 5 foods on hand so when you feel a cold coming on you can handle it like a boss. 

Bone Broth 

Bone Broth

When you are sick, or getting sick, hydration is key. You need to replenish your system with fluids and minerals! And what better way to do it than with a comforting cup of bone broth. Broth is easy to digest, breaks up congestion, and gently fuels your body with nutrients. It also serves as an excellent base for some Quick & Healthy Soup recipes. 

This is the easiest, cheapest, most passive thing you can do for your health. There are a number of recipes out there for bone broth, but basically bones + water + time will give you the goods. I always have some homemade or store bought broth on hand in the freezer or pantry. Homemade is the best, store bought from a trusted grass-fed, low sodium, organic source will also work just fine. My method for tasty bone broth is coming soon. 

Probiotics

Fermented foods like plain yogurt (dairy or coconut), kombucha, apple cider vinegar, kefir, miso, etc. will support your digestive system. Your gut is your front-line defense against foreign invaders, so it is crucial to show your guts some love. You want to keep things moving and grooving.

My all-time-favorite: Guava Kombucha. It is high in Vitamin C (from the guava) and B Vitamins (from the fermentation) to maintain energy. I also make Miso soup with other cold busting heavy hitters: Shiitake mushrooms, Miso, Garlic & Ginger – sign up for my MKN Quarterly Newsletter to get all 5 Quick & Healthy Soup recipes!

Tropical Fruits

On that Guava note, tropical fruits are highest in Vitamin C and contain other immune supporting vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Guava is my favorite because it tastes amazing, reminds me of Hawaii, and has over 200% of the RDA for Vitamin C in just 1 cup serving4.  You can avoid the high price of exotic fruit like coconut, mango, and pineapple by keeping a reserve pack in the freezer. I typically stay away from tropical fruits because EAT LOCAL AND SEASONAL, but being sick is definitely a treat yo-self moment. Put the lime in the coconut. Drink up that virgin piña colada!

Oysters

 Oysters

ZINC. One, 1 oz oyster contains about 80% of your RDA for Zinc[4]. So a dozen on the half shell - did I say treat yo-self? Yes, I did. 

Raw, baked, canned, doesn’t matter. Eat ‘em up! Again, keep a few cans of smoked oysters on hand for when you feel a cold coming on. I rarely use the word religiously to describe my actions, but eating a can of smoked oysters when I sense a cold coming on is something I do religiously.

Try smoked oysters with horseradish, raw red onion, avocado, and flax crackers… and watch your sinus, cold, and flu symptoms never appear before your eyes. 

Oregano Oil

This stuff is strong! The anti-septic compounds are useful in combating infection. Be careful when ingesting because direct contact of the oil on sensitive skin can cause irritation. Make sure to dilute with water and don't overdo it!

WARNING I give to everyone before swigging back a shot of Oregano Oil, “This might burn a little bit... in a good way.” Who doesn’t love a shot? Take 1 oz water w/ 3 drops oregano oil. 


*BONUS PRO TIP*

Grapefruit Seed Extract

This recommendation was given to me by a professor at Bauman College. A classmate and I were ping-ponging our own cold remedies when our professor chimed in with her secret remedy: Grapefruit Seed Extract. Its antimicrobial properties are similar to that of oregano oil (follow same directions) and especially helpful in reducing sore throat symptoms. A few weeks later I came down with a little cough and GSE did the trick! Now I keep a bottle in the cupboard with the rest of my home remedies to curb a cold. This extract has many uses, but should be treated as medicine first and foremost. Meaning, do not ingest this daily hoping to boost your immune system. 

Learning about GSE is a wonderful example of the healing power of food, the importance of sharing healing knowledge with others, and knowing how to appropriately use that healing power. I invite everyone reading this to share their own Healing Home Remedy in the comments section below! We all have something to learn from one another. Let's make it through this cold and flu season unscathed, together. 


The above recommendations are for general immune support to curb the common cold or flu. They are not meant to cure a compromised immune system. How do you gage the health of your immune system? If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below, it may be time to take a deeper look at your immune system with your Primary Health Care provider. 

Signs of a weakened immune system:  Recurrent and/ or chronic infections, Fatigue, Listlessness, Inflammation, Allergic reactions, Slow wound healing, Chronic diarrhea, Oral thrush/ yeast infections, and Candidiasis. 


[1] Murray, Michael, N.D. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: Atria Books, 2005.

[2] Bauman, E., Friedlander, J. Therapeutic Nutrition: Part 1. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College, 2016.

[3] Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Dietary Wellness. New York, NY: Penguin Group Inc., 2003.

[4] Whfoods.org

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