How to Beat Cold and Flu Season
It’s the season for getting sick. And it seems to be hitting everyone!
We have friends, family, and patients complaining of symptoms, from colds and stomach flus to fevers and sinus infections.
Here are some tricks to keep those sick germs away and stay healthy without the flu shot or multivitamins.
People have been consuming bone broth to stay healthy for countless generations. It has so many benefits that nearly everyone should be drinking it regularly.
Once or twice a week, make a big pot of bone broth and drink it almost every day(1-2 cups). Use it for soup, sauces, and for braising veggies—bone broth is especially good for simmering with collard greens or kale.
The immune-building properties of bone broth are well known, and it is great for recovery if you are already sick.
Have a look at this recipe for bone broth. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/beef-bone-broth-51260700
Starting your mornings with tea instead of coffee. Ginger tea is great for fighting colds and flus as it is packed with anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatories, and vitamin C, helping to alleviate congestion, sore throat, upset stomach, nausea and vomiting . Here’s a recipe we like:
3 cups of water
Juice of half a lemon
1 cinnamon stick
3 slices (1/4 inch thick) of fresh ginger
¼ tsp cloves
½ tbsp. turmeric
1 pinch cayenne (start with this and add more to taste)
1 ½ tbsp raw honey (can add more or less to achieve desired sweetness)
1. Add all ingredients (except honey) to a pot and bring to a boil.
2. Once boiling, reduce heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
3. Add honey and stir, adding more if necessary.
What your mother told you is true! It’s important to keep your neck and feet covered and warm during cold and flu season.
From an acupuncture perspective, this age-old advice comes down to one thing: Wind.
In Chinese medicine, Wind is the cause of 10,000 diseases—and common colds are just the tip of the iceberg. Depending on how deep Wind has penetrated the body, it can cause allergies, arthritis, stiff neck, headaches, body aches, asthma, skin rashes, hives, dizziness, and more.
With a common cold, the body’s defenses (the immune system) are low. Wind finds a way in through vulnerable spots like the back of the neck, which is known as the “Wind gate” in Chinese medicine.
This time of year especially, don’t leave home without a scarf. And ditch the flip flops!
Beyond weight loss, exercise helps to circulate blood, speed up metabolism, strengthen immunity, detoxify the body, and improve mental health.
If you are limited by an injury, come in and see us and we will get you back on the right track. If it is a lack of energy level or time, finding some form of regular exercise is paramount to staying healthy all year long. This time of year, especially in colder climates, there is a temptation to spend more time on the couch and less time outside moving around. But exercise almost always pays off.
If you aren’t in the habit of working out regularly, start with walking. You can do this nearly any time of day, almost anywhere, and you can bring a friend or interesting podcast along to help distract you. Start to add in other activities at your own pace, things like hiking, quick 15-minutes runs, yoga, light weight training, a dance class, or whatever works for you.
Eat Real Food
You should be able to get the majority of your vitamins from produce, meat, and dairy. Farmers markets are great because the lower transit time from farm to table means more nutrients retained and fresher food that keeps longer in the fridge, but if you are unable to do that for whatever reason, your nearby grocery store has many staples that will get you through.
If you are curious about eating a real-food diet, there are many books out there to get you on the right track. We suggest Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck, Eat Nourish Glow by Amelia Freer, or Forks over Knives: The Cookbook by Del Sroufe.
Sleep is important all year long, but especially in the wintertime.
Winter is like the nighttime of the whole year because it is colder, darker, and more quiet than the rest of the year. Just as our bodies rest and reset for the next day at night, winter is when our bodies need to rest for the busy warmer months ahead.
In Chinese medicine, too little sleep can be linked to anxiety, poor immunity, hormonal imbalances, stress, and low energy. Ideally adults should be getting at least 7-8 hours per night. If you’re missing out on a full night sleep, try taking naps, getting to bed earlier, and just generally slowing down a bit.
If you have trouble sleeping, it is important to still use nighttime to rest. Your body needs that dark, still, quiet time in order to balance out all the energy you use during the day.
Start by putting away your phone and computer at night and avoiding the TV. Screens are stimulating and can trick the brain into thinking it’s time to be awake. Turn down the lights, climb into bed, and do something that relaxes you like light stretching, meditating, listening to soothing music, or reading. Eventually, even if you still can’t sleep, turn all the lights out, lie down, and rest.
Your body will ultimately find a way to rest, but it may have to get sick or extremely fatigued in order for that to happen.
Stress can negatively impact so many aspects of our lives, so it is no surprise that it’s been proven to weaken the immune system. Cold and flu season is an especially important time to make sure we aren’t letting stress get to us. As I mentioned regarding sleep, our bodies need quiet and calm times to balance out the more stressful and hectic hours in the day.
I use a combination of meditation, massage, acupuncture, and gardening to stay relaxed. If you find yourself feeling frantic, focus on activities that slow you down. Incorporate them into your schedule on an ongoing basis and find a routine that works for you.
This article was originally written by Jacqueline Gabardy, it has been modified.