Are you sick right now? Or surrounded by other people who are? In this post I’m sharing exactly what I do to protect myself from cold germs. You may not know this about me but I work in a pediatric hospital so I am exposed to cold and flu germs on the regular. Not to mention all the exposure we get in our lives outside of work too. So I have a lot of experience knowing I’ve been exposed to cold and flu causing germs, and needing to get my body and immune system ready to fight them. Here’s what I take and what I avoid at the first sign of a cold.
- My mom introduced this herbal supplement to our family years ago and we swear by it. We take it as soon as we feel the slightest cold symptoms, like a tinge of a sore throat, increased sneezing or a stuffy nose and watery eyes. It’s been a game changer for us all. According to Gaia, the company that makes the elderberry I buy, elderberry is an herbal supplement that has been used by traditional cultures to support immune function for centuries. The Gaia website also explains that in Native American herbalism “elderberry has been used by many tribes as a tonic medicine and food to promote health and vitality.” I use this elderberry extract and add it to water, but you can also get it in syrup and pill form. I get mine at my local Whole Foods.
- Kimchi is a Korean superfood made from fermented cabbage and other vegetables. One Green Planet describes kimchi as a “supercharged form of sauerkraut.” It is a hot food (as in spice, not temperature) and it’s well-known as being beneficial for our gut health. I eat it even when I’m not sick because I like how it tastes. But in addition to promoting gut health, I always felt that when I ate kimchi at the first sign of a cold it would heat those germs right out of me. At first I didn’t do any research to back that up. All I had were some memories from college anthropology classes about hot and cold foods being used as medicine in traditional cultures, as well as the fact that I just physically felt that it diminished my cold symptoms. And guess what, as it turns out, I wasn’t making it up! The good bacteria that we ingest when eating fermented foods like kimchi can help counteract inflammation and the growth of disease-causing bacteria. AKA, when we put good bacteria in our bodies it helps us to fight off the bad bacteria, which makes total sense. You can read more about the benefits of kimchi here.
- Drink so much water
- This one is simple but it really helps. Drink a ton of water to help flush those germs right out of your system! The more you drink, the more germs you can help eliminate through urination. I try to drink anywhere from 8 to 10 large glasses of water a day when I’m feeling sick.
- Fresh squeezed orange juice
- We all know orange juice is said to be helpful when you have a cold because it’s high in vitamin C, which helps support immune health. When stocking up on your OJ try to get fresh squeezed so that it’s bursting with all those freshly squeezed nutrients and make sure that it doesn’t contain any added sugar. (I’ll explain why you don’t want added sugar later in this post.) If you have access to other fresh citrus juices that are high in vitamin C, those will work too. I often get a drink at my local juice shop that is a combination of orange juice, grapefruit juice and lemon juice all together. Plus, the liquid in OJ will help flush out those germs too, just like the water.
- Green juice
- Green juice is full of nutrients. Whether you actually eat your greens or get them from a juice, the nutrients in greens will help bolster your immune system even more.
And last but not least…
- Avoid all dairy and processed sugar
- I already eat a totally dairy-free diet, but here’s why you’ll want to avoid it too! As a kid I always remember my mom saying we shouldn’t drink milk when we were sick because it would make us more congested. And she was right. Dairy makes people congested. That was one of the big differences I noticed when I cut dairy out of my diet, I didn’t even know I could breathe clearer than I had my whole life. Dairy was a part of my everyday diet, so the way I would breathe in response to it was all I knew. And within weeks of cutting dairy out of my diet I was like, “WHAT?! I can breathe this clearly?! Who would’ve known!” So I’m guessing if you’re sick and reading this you’re already congested, so there’s definitely no reason to add to that discomfort by consuming dairy!
- Processed sugar
- You know when someone says something and it just sticks with you? I used to see a homeopath who once told me, “Sugar is a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria.” And I never forgot it. Now that’s not to say that the natural occurring sugar in fruit is bad, because it isn’t. It’s processed sugar that’s added to food that becomes a breeding ground for whatever germs we’ve got in us. Sugar lowers our body’s ability to fight off disease while at the same time fueling germs to grow and multiply. So I avoid processed sugar at all costs when I’m feeling sick, and you’ll probably feel a lot better if you do too! 🙂
I hope you guys found this useful and that it will help keep you healthy this cold season. Do you have any other cold or flu home remedies? If so leave them in the comments section below, I want to hear what they are!
P.S. About to go have some kimchi and rice for dinner. Not because I’m feeling sick, but because it’s healthy and delicious!
P.P.S. Not all kimchi is vegan, so make sure to check the labels and go for the vegan ones.