Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Prevent the Cold and Flu Naturally

Don’t know whether we have flu season in Malaysia, so we should be always be on guard.
Here are some tips by Becky Striepe to help you arm yourself for cold and flu:

Wash Your Hands Like Crazy

One of the simplest things you can do to prevent illness is wash your hands. A lot. You also want to avoid touching your face or putting your hands in your mouth. I’m lookin’ at you, nail-biters!
When a cold or the flu is going around, folks are coughing and sneezing into their hands, then touching things from money to doorknobs. You don’t need to obsessively use hand sanitizer, but frequent hand-washing can go a long way towards keeping those germs out of your system. If you do opt for a hand sanitizer during cold and flu season, just check the ingredients to make sure it doesn’t contain triclosan. This chemical is terrible for public health and the environment, and it’s not necessary to kill cold and flu germs.

Cough Like a Vampire

Speaking of all of that coughing and sneezing, make sure you’re not spreading germs yourself by adopting the “vampire cough.” Rather than coughing into your hand, use the crook of your elbow to “catch” your cough or sneeze.
If you cough into your hands, the germs from your mouth get spread around. Think about it - what was the last thing you touched with the inside of your elbow?

Stay Hydrated
You’ve heard this one before: drink plenty of fluids to keep from getting sick. For an extra immune boost, include fruit and vegetable juice in your daily routine. Those antioxidants help your body stave off illness. Just avoid sugary juices when you can – too much sugar is no good for staying healthy!
You’ll also want to drink as much green and black tea as you can. A 2009 study showed that people who drank 5 cups of tea per day had a healthier immune system than non-tea-drinkers. Five cups a day may sound like a lot, but it’s doable! Try having two cups in the morning, a cup with lunch, and a cup with dinner, and a cup while you’re winding down in the evening.

Eat Yogurt

Research has shown that the “good bacteria” in yogurt can help boost the immune system, especially in people who have a suppressed immune system. Since it’s the cultures and not the milk, soy or coconut yogurt work just as well in boosting immune health.

Cut Back on Smoking and Drinking

This is kind of a no-brainer, but we do tend to overindulge around the holidays, so it bears mentioning. Cigarettes and alcohol do hinder your body’s ability to fight illness. That doesn’t mean you can’t have the occasional spiked cider, but moderation is definitely key.

Vitamin D

A 2010 study found that kids who took a vitamin D supplement during cold and flu season were twice as likely to avoid the flu as kids who took a placebo. Think your diet could use more vitamin D? You could take a supplement like the kids in the study, or try upping your intake of vitamin D-enriched foods like dairy, juices, and soy products. Mushrooms are also a good dietary source of vitamin D.
If you do decide that you need more vitamin D in your life, just make sure you don’t take more than 2000 IU each day. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, which means that it doesn’t just go through your system if you take too much. It can actually be toxic if you get more than that 2000 IU per day. The kids in the study were taking taking 1200 IU daily, so staying close to that number should do the trick.
Vitamin D Capsules like Ostelin containing 25mcg cholecalciferol (equivalent to Vitamin D3 1000 IU is not available in Malaysia. A possible alternative oral preventive is Esberitox N tablets with a herbal complex that includes Echinaceae extracts.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center some studies have shown that the herb can make you feel better faster. Others suggest that echinacea has no impact on a cold at all. Several clinical trials have shown that people who take echinacea as soon as they feel sick reduce the severity of their cold and have fewer symptoms than those who do not take the herb. One study of 95 people with early symptoms of cold and flu (such as runny nose, scratchy throat, and fever), found that those who drank several cups of echinacea tea every day for 5 days felt better sooner than those who drank tea without echinacea.
A review of 14 clinical trials found that echinacea reduced the odds of developing a cold by 58% and the duration of a cold by 1 - 4 days. However, some experts dispute these findings claiming that there were several weaknesses in the analyses. Echinacea preparations tested in clinical trials differ greatly. It is important to choose a high quality echinacea supplement. Talk to your health care provider for recommendations.

If You Do Get Sick

Even despite our best efforts, we sometimes still come down with the cold or the flu. If you do get sick, here are a few tips to help you make it through:
Get plenty of rest. Your body does its best healing work when you’re snoozing, so consider sickness your body’s way of telling you to take a break. Watch bad TV, catch up on your reading, and rest, rest, rest.
Gargle with salt water. This will help relieve the sore throat from post-nasal drip.

Neti pot.
At the first sign of congestion, it’s time to whip out that neti pot and start using it twice a day. Once you’re super stuffed up, it’s often too late to use the neti pot.
Take zinc. Studies have shown that zinc can help reduce your cold’s severity and duration. Plus, those zinc lozenges are soothing for your poor throat.
Drink lots of fluids, including hot tea. Your body runs on water, so stay hydrated if you come down with a cold or flu. Hot tea will help sooth inflammation and the warmth can help clear out those stuffy sinuses, too.
Of course, if you’re down for the count for more than a week, that cold or flu may have turned into something worse, like bronchitis. In that case, it’s doctor time. Listen to your body, and take care of yourself this cold and flu season!

Becky Striepe is a green blogger and independent crafter with a passion for vintage fabrics. She runs a crafty business, Glue and Glitter, where her mission is to use existing materials in products that help folks reduce their impact without sacrificing style! She specializes in aprons and custom lunch bags. Like this article? You can follow Becky on Twitter or find her on Facebook!

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