As the winter season is upon us, it is no secret that cold and flu season is upon us as well. While we may think we know all there is about cold prevention, here are a few tips to ensure you stay in tip-top shape throughout the winter months!
1) Eat Phytochemical Rich Foods
Phyto means ‘plant’ and this natural chemical in plants gives vitamins found in food a super charge! This means don’t sub in vitamins or supplements – go for the real deal. Lots of dark green, leafy veggies this winter!
2) Cut down on alcohol intake!
Alcohol effectively suppresses the immune system and dehydrates the body. Neither of these things make it likely that your body will be able to fend off cold and flu attacks. Cut back and improve your chances of staying healthy!
3) Garlic, garlic, garlic!
Garlic is well known to boost your immune system and increases resistance to infection. Bryan Rade, a naturopathic doctor based in Halifax. “If you happen to come in contact with a flu virus, [garlic] can help destroy it before it becomes a full-blown flu in the body.” Cooking Tip: Make sure when using garlic in your cooking to crush with the side of your knife in order to release the immune boosting juices into your cooking! An alternative, if you’re brave enough, is to chew a raw clove of garlic every 3-4 hours to get the maximum benefits of garlic!
4) Lots of Liquids
Any (decaffeinated) liquid will keep your mucous membranes moist, whereas dry nasal passages and throat can be a breeding ground for cold and flu bugs. When your mucous membranes are moist, they are then able to trap the cold and flu viruses. Another tip, when choosing a juice, make sure to choose unsweetened or low-sugar juices!
If you start to feel a cold coming on, skip the usual cough medicine and try some old fashioned honey! It is suggested that one to two tablespoons straight from the jar mixed into a cup of tea can be just as (if not more) effective!
6) Don’t Cut Calories
A study in mice showed that mice who were on low calorie diets took longer to recover from cold and flu symptoms than those not, so skip the diet until after flu season!
7) Vitamin D
For people who are not deficient in vitamin D, it can be a great prevention tool, but for the 40% of people in Canada and the US who are deficient, it can be nothing short of miraculous in terms of preventing cold, flu and respiratory infections. The winter months are short on the sunshine, and therefore leave us low on vitamin D. In order to ensure you’re getting enough, eat lots of oily fish such as trout, salmon and tuna!
8) Spice it up!
People tend to forget that spices are a treasure trove of health benefits. In terms of cold and flu, there are numerous spices (maybe in your kitchen right now!) that can keep cold and flu symptoms at bay. Doctors suggest that adding spices such as oregano, mustard and thyme to your everyday cooking can actually help to boost your immune system!
9) More fruit!
In the winter months, people tend to neglect their fruits and veggies, which is the exact opposite of what you should be doing! Studies suggest, “People who ate three or more servings daily had 25% fewer days with respiratory symptoms during cold-and-flu season than those who ate one or fewer. The vitamin C content may provide part of the punch, but fruit also contains polyphenols, which have antiviral properties.”
The less protein you intake the more of an effect it will have on your immune system! Protein is the building blocks of infection fighting antibodies, so it’s an important factor in cold and flu prevention. Fish and yogurt are all relatively high in protein and make a great supplement to your existing diet.
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