You’ve probably been told a lot of things about thwarting off the flu. Maybe your mother makes a putridly strong tea or your father tells you to suck it up and persevere. We all have our tricks, few of which actually help prevent anything.
So, we decided to do a bit of digging. We’ve scoured remedies old and new, bizarre and common, to find out what actually works.
1) Neti Pot
Many of the bacterial and viral strains that find their way into your body do so through your nose and mouth. By using the Neti Pot, you’re flushing away any of the bad stuff that’s storing itself in your sinuses.
Most sore throats are caused by nasal dripping, which means that mucus is sliding down your nose and into your throat. Using the Neti Pot, you’ll remove all of the mucus that would otherwise cause you to develop a sore throat.
Simply put, by using the Neti Pot, you’re reducing your risk of both bacterial infections – like sinus and throat – and viruses – like cold and flu. I use the Neti Pot for other things too, like sinus pressure or tension headaches. If you’re healthy the mucus will run clear, and if you’re not, the visual results are less-than-pretty. It’s a good way to tell if you’re just experiencing sinus pressure or if you have a sinus infection, in which case you should visit your doctor.
Neti Pots are available at most drug stores. Be sure to use your pot correctly. Only use purified water, like from your Brita filter, and the saline solution that comes with your pot.
2) Oregano Oil
Oregano oil has been proven to boost the immune system and improve respiratory health in humans. Aside from that, it’s known to kill tiny organisms that can cause infections in humans. For those reasons, it’s always at the top of my list come cold and flu season.
Oregano oil has an extremely potent and medicinal taste. For those of us used to it, it’s almost like taking a shot of strong liquor. If you hate the taste, put a few drops into your morning orange or grapefruit juice. The strong citric flavour of those fruits mask oregano oil nicely.
Take it as a precautionary measure, but be extra sure to maintain using this once any sign of cold or respiratory illness pops up. If you’ve got a sore throat, stuffy nose or body aches, reach for oregano oil stat.
3) Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruit seed extract is anti-microbial, and has been shown to kill bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic strains in humans.
What does all of that mean? It’s known to prevent viruses (like cold and flu) and kill bacteria that can cause respiratory infections such as strep throat and pneumonia. If you’re serious about preventing illness this season, add this to your regimen.
I have taken liquid extract every morning for the past six months and – although I was once a poster child for the underprivileged immune system – I haven’t been sick yet this year. The extract I chose is a combination of grapefruit seed and oregano oil. You can buy it at most health food stores or online. It looks like this:
By exercising during cold and flu season, you’re giving your body a fighting chance. Exercise will boost your immune system and, at the first sign of a cold, it can reduce your symptoms. So long as you aren’t showing respiratory distress, body aches or fatigue, do some light exercise to open your nasal passages and speed up your recovery time.
Keep in mind that any symptoms below your neck are a direct ticket to bed. If you’re feeling chest congestion or body aches, don’t push yourself into exercising. Doing this will only make things worse.
Make sure to listen to your body and, if symptoms are mild and restricted to your head, you should still be doing a less intense workout than on a regular, healthy day.
Fatty fish, like salmon, contain omega-3 fatty acids that are known to boost the immune system and fight off bacteria.
How does this help? Well, if your immune system is boosted, you’re less likely to get sick. If you do fall victim, the omega-3 fatty acids boost phagocytes, cells that fight the flu. Aside from those benefits, omega-3s have been shown to boost brain activity and physical health overall, reducing your risk of cancer and heart disease both.
Getting fatty fish or pill form omega-3 into your diet is a no-brainer.
6) Vitamin D
While vitamin D has been toted as a direct cold-fighter in recent years, that isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, so many outlets have recently reported on its inability to fight cold and flu, it’s astonishing.
However, it is a proven anti-inflammatory agent and it improves immune function. It also promotes absorption of nutrients in the gut. All of these things point to its important role in overall health. What does overall health reduce the risk of? Oh yeah, cold and flu.
7) Eat well
Eating well on a regular basis will help boost and maintain a healthy immune system. Specific foods that seem to help during cold and flu season are garlic and yogurt.
When you balance your diet with nutrients and vitamins that it so desperately needs, it becomes stronger and stronger. By eating a lot of vegetables and whole foods – foods that are unprocessed – you’ll be strengthening and protecting your body against cold and flu every day.
Consider adding a morning smoothie with yogurt, greens – like kale or spinach – juice, ginger root, fruits and supplements – like oregano oil, grapefruit seed extract, omega 3 and vitamin D – to your morning routine. Throughout the day, snack on healthy, hearty foods like nuts and homemade soups containing garlic and vegetables. The better your diet, the less likely you are to succumb to any illnesses, cold and flu included.
So, there you have it. Whether you’re the first to fall or the last, most of us will contract a cold or flu virus this winter. By following the above advice, you’ll be less likely to fall ill and, if you do, your symptoms will likely be mild and short lived.