The change of season from summer-to-winter is a common time for people to come down with a cold or flu. The following steps will decrease your susceptibility and speed your recovery:
- Stay warm. Getting a chill will decrease your defenses and increase the likelihood of catching a cold or flu. It is best to dress for the coolest temperature of the day and layer your clothing as the temperature changes. If you do come down with a cold or flu try and bring on a fever to help the body naturally fight off the infection.
- Eat warm food. As the temperatures drop below 10° C it is better to consume primarily warm food and drinks. Warm food is easier to digest and will aid in the body in staying warm.
- Increase spices. Onions, garlic, ginger, thyme, oregano, sage and other warming spices typically contain anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that will help prevent and fight-off infections.
- Limit or avoid offending foods. Foods such as sugar, caffeine, alcohol and "white" products, as well as fried and processed food have minimal nutrients and typically suppress the immune system. Viruses and bacteria will feed on sugar, so if you are sick you are best to maintain a clean diet.
- Avoid dairy. If you are prone to sinus infections or if you have an infection that is accompanied with a lot of mucous avoid dairy, bananas and yeast as they are all mucous forming.
- Drink adequate water. Your body requires water for all bodily functions and to assist with the elimination of toxins. In the fall and winter it is best to choose warm or room temperature water versus cold.
- Ensure adequate sleep. Avoid getting run down and exhausted. An exhausted system is more susceptible to colds and flu. Also, keep in mind that the body heals primarily when you sleep. If you want to fight off an infection plan to get more sleep.
- Reduce your stress. Often easier said than done, but chronic stress is one of the main factors for susceptibility to infection. Find outlets for stress such as exercise, meditation, journaling, reading or listening to music.
- Exercise weekly. Regular, moderate exercise decreases stress and boost the immune system. If you are dealing with an infection avoid heavy or exhaustive exercise. If you are exercising outside, stay warm. You are better to sweat because you are dressed warm than you are to have too much skin exposed and get cold. If you are playing / exercising outside and you do sweat, change into dry warm clothes as soon as you finish.
At the first sign of an infection:
- Improve on the recommendations above.
- Encourage a fever.
- Do warming socks (see our handout on our website)
- Take the supplements recommended by your naturopathic doctor.
Naturopathic First Aid Kit for Colds and Flu
The following supplements are typically beneficial to have handy over the holiday season: