Getting a common cold doesn’t have to be so… common. There are things you can do naturally to make getting sick less likely.
But, if you do happen to get sick, there are things you can also do to help support your body to fight it off.
Good hand hygiene and overall healthy habits can reduce your risk of getting sick in the first place. And good nutrition can help your immune system fight off a cold quicker. Imagine your germ-fighting immune cells all hungry and tired, versus them being nourished and full of energy.
And that’s what this post is all about.
First I’ll give you some tips to reduce your risk of getting sick in the first place. Then, I’ll let you in on some of my strategies to recover from that cold you may still get from time to time.
Natural tips to reduce your risk of sickness
Here are some great ideas to incorporate into your daily life to reduce your risk of getting sick.
1 - Wash your hands. A lot. Your hands can trap and transport all kinds of microbes that cause sickness. And I’m not just talking about colds here, but lots of different germs.
NOTE: Antibacterial soap is not recommended. Not only is it no more effective than regular soap and water, but it can contribute to antibiotic resistance.
2 - Get enough nutrients. I know this is way oversimplified, but I would be remiss to exclude it. Every cell in your body, including your immune cells, need enough of all the essential nutrients. The more nutrition you have, the better and stronger you will be, especially with vitamins A, C, and E. Vitamin A-rich foods include carrots, sweet potato, and organ meats. Vitamin C-rich foods include bell peppers and citrus. Vitamin E-rich foods include nuts, seeds, and leafy greens.
3 - Probiotic foods. Helping our health-promoting gut microbes with more of their probiotic friends is in order here to help keep the immune system strong. Try 1-2 servings/day of fermented foods and drinks like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kefir, and kombucha.
4 - Prebiotic foods. Feeding those friendly gut microbes their favourite foods can help them to grow and flourish. They love fibrous foods like onions, asparagus, berries, bananas, sweet potatoes, whole grains, and seeds. Aim for 2-3 servings/day.
5 - Get enough sleep. Did you know that our immune system cycles with our circadian system? When we sleep our immune cells produce antibodies to fight infections. Try to get at least 7 hours every single night, even when you're feeling great.
Natural tips to recover from that sickness
When you do get an infection, not only do you need more nutrients to fight it off, but your body also has a harder time absorbing and using the nutrients you take in. Sometimes this is because of reduced hunger, sometimes due to gastrointestinal reasons. Either way, nourishing your body is even more important. When you do get sick, make sure you are implementing tips 1-5 plus the tips below that are crucial for getting over a common cold.
6 - Drink lots of fluids. Being sick can be dehydrating. Fluids like water, chicken soup, and green tea are warm, hydrating comfort drinks. Chicken soup is a source of electrolytes, especially if homemade from a real chicken with lots of vegetables. Green tea has been shown to boost some of our immune cells, and this can help to better fight off the invading germ.
7 - Rest and recover. When your body is fighting an infection, it’s busy working hard for your health. Give it a break and relax while you’re feeling under the weather.
Safe Over The Counter Medications
When choosing over the counter medications to help ease the symptoms of a cold, think about what your symptoms are and treat those individually.
There are literally hundreds of over the counter products and it get confusing and dangerous.
The most common mistake I see as a pharmacist is grabbing several cold medications that have similar active drugs which can cause and overdose of those active ingredients, spiking blood sugar from the syrupy medicine, and spiking blood pressure from NSAIDS and nasal decongestants.
8- Tylenol (Acetaminophen) for sore throat, headache, or body aches if your liver is in good working order. Stay clear from NSAIDS, anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, as they squeeze on your kidneys blood vessels and increase your blood pressure.
9- Saline nasal spray, Vick’s vapor menthol rub for a stuffy congested nose. Watch out for pseudoephedrine containing products as they will spike your blood pressure.
10- Allergy medicine like loratadine, fexofenadine, cetirizine plus a steroid nasal spray like fluticasone for an itchy runny nose. Watch out for spray nasal decongestants like phenylephrine that can spike blood pressure.
11. Dextromethorphan for cough suppression. Delsym is my favorite brand if you want to treat your individual symptoms.
12. Coricidin products if you just want a combo pill that does it all and that’s safe for your blood pressure.
There are lots of things we can do to stay healthy and reduce infections naturally. Washing your hands is a proven way to reduce your risk. And staying healthy in all other ways helps a lot. Getting enough nutrition, eating probiotic and prebiotic foods, and getting enough sleep are key year round.
If you do get sick, keep up all of your good habits above, and make sure to add some warm, healthy fluids, and extra rest.
What do you do when you get sick? Let me know in the comments below.
If you want to prevent medications, lower the dose of a medication, or get off of your medication follow my 10-step beginner checklist to lower blood pressure naturally. Click on the image below and put in your best email address and I’ll send over the checklist and a 7-day meal plan to your email inbox.