Ideally, you must address nutrition, sleep, exercise and stress issues the moment you first feel yourself getting a bug. This is when immune-enhancing strategies will be most effective. So when you're coming down with a cold, it's time to address ALL of the contributing factors immediately, which includes tweaking your diet in favor of foods that will strengthen your immune response.
Good choices include:
- Raw, grass-fed organic milk, and/or high-quality whey protein
- Fermented foods such as raw kefir, kimchee, miso, pickles, sauerkraut, etc, which are rich in probiotics, or good bacteria. Scientific research shows that 80 percent of your immune system resides inside your digestive tract, so eating probiotic-rich foods, or taking a high-quality probiotic, will help support your immune system health.
- Raw, organic eggs from free-ranging, preferably local, chickens
- Grass-fed beef
- Coconuts and coconut oil
- Omega-3 & 6 fats, such as Chia Seeds
- Locally grown fruits and vegetables, appropriate for your nutritional type.
- Mushrooms, especially Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake, which contain beta glucans (which have immune-enhancing properties)
- Garlic, a potent antimicrobial that kills bacteria, viruses and fungi. Ideally this should be in fresh form, eaten raw and crushed with a spoon just before eating.
- Herbs and spices with high ORAC scores: Turmeric, oregano, cinnamon, cloves.
- Make sure you are drinking plenty of fresh, pure water. Water is essential for the optimal function of every system in your body and will help with nose stuffiness and loosening secretions. You should drink enough water so that your urine is a light, pale yellow.
And what about the old wives' tale of chicken soup for your cold?
Chicken soup can help reduce your symptoms. Chicken contains a natural amino acid called cysteine, which can thin the mucus in your lungs and make it less sticky so you can expel it more easily.
Processed, canned soups won't work as well as the homemade version, however.
For best results, make up a fresh batch yourself (or ask a friend or family member to do so) and make the soup hot and spicy with plenty of pepper. The spices will trigger a sudden release of watery fluids in your mouth, throat, and lungs, which will help thin down the respiratory mucus so it's easier to cough up and expel.
Three Cold-Busting Lifestyle Strategies
1. High-Quality Sleep- And plenty of it! Pay attention to how you are sleeping. If you aren't getting enough sleep, or enough restorative sleep, you'll be at increased risk for a hostile viral takeover. Your immune system is also the most effective when you're not sleep-deprived, so the more rested you are the quicker you'll recover. Also too much visual stimulation at night before bed such as the Tv, Ipad, and computer disrupts the release of melatonin, diminishing the regenerative benefits of sleep. The body needs time to shut down naturally.
2. Regular Exercise - Regular exercise is a crucial strategy for increasing your resistance to illness. There is evidence that regular, moderate exercise can reduce your risk for respiratory illness by boosting your immune system. In fact, one study found that people who exercised regularly (five or more days a week) cut their risk of having a cold by close to 50 percent. And, in the event they did catch a cold, their symptoms were much less severe than among those who did not exercise. Exercise likely cuts your risk of colds so significantly because it triggers a rise in immune system cells that can attack any potential invaders. Each time you exercise you can benefit from this boost to your immune system. Ideally, establish a regular fitness program now, such as Zumba Dance fitness classes! and help youself ward off colds and other illness.
However, if you're already feeling sick don't overdo it.
Over-exercising can actually place more stress on your body, which can suppress your immune system -- and you don't want that either. You might just go for a walk if you are coming down with a cold, or simply tone down your regular workout. Any rise in body temperature will be an unwelcome climate for a viral invader, though, so some exercise is likely to be beneficial.
3. Reduce Your Emotional Stress - Emotional stressors can also predispose you to an infection while making cold symptoms worse. Finding ways to manage daily stress as well as your reactions to circumstances beyond your control will contribute to a strong and resilient immune system. Some of my favorites include massage, meditation, deep breathing, yoga, walking out in nature, and anything that will help you in reducing stress.