Feed a cold, starve a fever. According to the Scientific American this saying is attributed to John Withal’s dictionary dated 1574. The belief was that eating would warm the body up to help overcome the cold and starving the body would aid in cooling it down during a fever. Neither is actually correct.
The number one defense in fighting these common illnesses is to have a strong immune system and the first thing one can do for their immune system is to eat right—before the cold or flu strikes.
But this winter if you should find yourself getting that all too common cold there are some great and easy ways to nip that bug in the bud.
When my sons were younger and the cold season was hitting in school, the first things I would do would be to put a pot of homemade chicken soup on the stove, make them a warm cup of echinacea tea with honey in it and have them suck on zinc lozenges. It sure seemed to ward off the sneezing, sniffling, runny nose symptoms. I honestly cannot remember a time my boys had to miss school because of a cold. Now that they are older I will give them a cold fighter gift pack in the fall, a box of echinacea tea, a little bear full of honey, zinc and elderberry lozenges, vitamin D and some essential oils. It’s up to them to use it before the cold takes hold!
Why Zinc, Echinacea & Elderberry?
Zinc is believed to work for both colds and flu, a study at the Cleveland Clinic found that people who sucked on 6-8 lozenges a day reduced the duration of their cold by over three days. Echinacea works to help cut the risk of catching a cold as well as reducing the length of the cold. The flavonoids in elderberry extract (not jam or wine) stimulate the immune system.
Hot drinks and honey are soothing ways to relieve congestion and the inflammation in the lining of your throat and nose. I have always used echinacea tea with a squirt or two of honey in it, but have found that even just putting the tea kettle on with water and drinking just the water with honey is soothing too. We all know that drinking plenty of liquids is a golden rule, and these warm drinks are comforting.
Speaking of comfort, what is more comforting than a nice steaming bowl of homemade chicken soup? A study at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha proved that this isn’t just an old wives tale. The soup contains an amino acid that acts like acetylcysteine, a drug prescribed to help clear the mucus, but without the long list of side effects. The steaming liquid of the soup helps to not just give us comfort but helps to boost the liquid intake we need to increase during a cold. I know that lots of us don’t have time to just whip up a big ol’ pot of homemade soup especially when we’re not feeling the best, that’s okay because a good quality can of chicken soup will work too—sadly though, they are loaded with sodium which hinders the hydration we need when a cold is trying to take over. So drink extra-extra water along with the canned soup.
Vitamin C & Vitamin D
When autumn comes around I start taking Vitamin C and increase my dose of Vitamin D to aid in bolstering my immune system. Vitamin C works to knock out free radicals so that the immune system can work better. Vitamin D, a.k.a. the sunshine vitamin, is made in our body through the skin when exposed to sunshine. Well who here in Minnesota gets to expose their skin to the sun in the cold months? Nobody that I know! Add to that, most of us are in school or at work if the sun is shining during the winter. Therefore, supplementation is helpful. Few foods contain Vitamin D, but the best sources are the flesh of fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, small amounts are found in foods like egg yolks and beef liver. Next time you’re at the doctor ask to have your level of Vitamin D tested; chances are you may be a little low. There is an increased risk of infections in the body when it is deficient in Vitamin D.
Using a diffuser for essential oils, or putting a few drops in a pot of simmering water helps to deter the growth of viruses. Simmering the water or using the diffuser also helps to put moisture into the dry winter air. Eucalyptus, lavender, clove, and cinnamon bark are among the best essential oils for colds.
Natural cold remedies? Eat right, drink plenty of liquids, and get plenty of sleep and exercise. Easier said than done, right? I hope that when you cannot avoid the germs or life is too hectic to take care of yourself properly you will find some relief in the bug fighters I talked about in this blog.
Coborn’s Natural Foods Manager
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