Cold and flu season coming up ~ what do I do?

Here Comes the Fall and Winter

Embrace the crispy cool air and fun winter clothes and changing of the season, but let’s keep our bodies healthy for those outdoor adventures!!

Question:

What can I do to keep up my immune system during the cold and flu season? And how do I relieve cold symptoms naturally?

Answer:

  • Chicken soup ~ Homemade of course!!  It helps relieve congestion by thinning mucus and acts as an anti-inflamatory.1,2  Recipe Card. Click here for some interesting soup traditions: Israel, Ancient Rome, and Greece
  • Water ~ Keeping hydrated is a must.  During the colder seasons the heater is run which can increase water loss from your body.  Water helps flush out the toxins and impurities in your system, and its important to stay hydrated if you have a fever.
  • Salt Water ~ 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt water in 1 cup (8 ounces) of water can help relive a sore or irritated throat.
  • Vitamin C ~ Based on a recent Crochrane review, because Vitamin C has a consistent effect on the duration and severity of the common cold with regular supplementation, it may be beneficial for the individual to test whether therapeutic Vitamin C is beneficial to them. (Therapeutic supplementation mean taking is after the cold has started.)  Also, 5 studies showed that regular supplementation in  marathon runners, skiers and soldiers on subarctic exercises reduced the incidence of the common cold. Those participating in extreme physical exercises causing stress to the body may benefit by taking Vitamin C.3
  • Zinc ~  A review done shows that taking zinc orally may shorten the duration of the common cold, however, adverse affects were common.The FDA warns against taking intranasal zinc.  Getting adequate dietary zinc is a safe route without the side effects and can help build up your immune system to protect against the common cold. Zinc is found in a variety of foods including: liver, meats, fish, oats, seeds, shrimp, maple syrup, green peas, milk and yogurt, almonds, cheese, and beans.5 
  • Probiotics ~ Full of good bacteria, sources containing live cultures help keep your gut healthy which is one of the first lines of defense against bacteria and viruses invading your body.  Foods containing live cultures include: yogurt, keifer, and fermented foods.
  • Honey ~ Soothes the sore throat and helps alleviate coughing.  Honey can be mixed with fresh squeezed lemon juice and warm water.
  • Garlic ~ Based on a Cochrane review the verdict is still out on whether is helps prevent or treat the common cold.6 However, it has been shown to have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiprotozoal properties and has been used medicinally for generations and generations.7 We seem to eventually prove the ancient wisdom true so adding garlic to your dishes is probably a good idea.
  • Vitamin D ~ A good source of Vitamin D during the shorter days is cod liver oil.  Make sure the source is pure.

Sources:

1. Rennard, et al. Chicken Soup Inhibits Neutrophil Chemotaxis In Vitro. CHEST 2000; 118:1150 –1157.

2.  Babizhayev MA, Deyev AI. Management of the virulent influenza virus infection by oral formulation of nonhydrolized carnosine and isopeptide of carnosine attenuating proinflammatory cytokine-induced nitric oxide production. Am J Ther. 2012 Jan;19(1):e25-47.

3.  Harri Hemilä and Elizabeth Chalker, Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Review, 2013, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD000980

4. Sience, et al. Zinc for the treatment of the common cold: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. CMAJ July 10, 2012, vol 184 no. 10.

5.  Office of Dietary Supplements, NIH.

6.  Lissiman E, Bhasale AL, Cohen M. Garlic for the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Mar 14;3.

7. Harris JC, Cottrell SL, Plummer S, Lloyd D. Antimicrobial properties of Allium sativum (garlic). Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2001 Oct;57(3):282-6.