I'd like to think that before Rayen came along, I rarely got sick. But then I reflect back to our time living in Hong Kong and realize all the time spent in public transport getting to and from Kowloon to HK Island that that's not really true - every time the weather changed, people would inevitably be coughing out loud while simultaneously glued to their smartphones without practicing any common courtesy (I.e, sneezing into an elbow or covering their mouth at least), thereby spreading their nasty germs everywhere on the bus 😑
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE FLU?
Short for influenza, the flu is a contagious respiratory infection that spreads mostly from person to person. Caused by a virus that affects the nose, throat, and lungs, the flu can range from mild to severe and can last from days to weeks. You know the symptoms: fever, body aches, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches or the dreaded chills.
Prevention is key! The best way to stop colds and flu before they start is to keep your immune system strong and healthy so they can cut off the virus before it takes hold of your body (and precious time). While there are competing opinions about the flu vaccines and OTC medications, there are plenty of natural remedies to help you get well faster. Here are some tips for preventing and fighting colds and flu naturally.
1. HYDRATE, HYRDATE, HYDRATE
Staying hydrated when you’re on the cusp will help to loosen mucus and prevent dehydration. When your eyes and nose are dry, they’re less effective at catching and kicking the virus out of the body. Fluids will help to thin out the mucus that builds up with the flu. You don’t have to drink water 24/7, but avoid caffeinated drinks or alcohol. Hot drinks may work better than cold.
2. EXERCISE REGULARLY AND GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Proper exercise can help stimulate the immune system - namely, the white blood cells that are responsible for fighting infections - to travel through your body faster to do their jobs better. Aim for at least 30 minutes of cardio to get that heart rate up. Also, don’t forget to rest! A full night’s sleep can and will keep your body’s natural defenses running at optimum efficiency.
3. EAT A HEALTHY DIET
Avoid foods that can cause chronic, low grade inflammation. Excessive sugar and bad fats will impair immune response so lay off the junk food and candy. Consume foods loaded with antioxidant nutrients and antiviral properties like blueberries, turmeric, broccoli, sweet potatoes, garlic, ginger and ingredients that are high in fiber. Fiber is good for you because it feeds our gut bacteria - and gut health has a huge impact on our immune system. For a general idea on what to stock up in your fridge, I like going back to this article to reference.
4. GET IN THOSE VITAMINS
In addition to eating balanced, it’s important to take your vitamins. Get in your daily vitamin C from foods like orange juice or other citrus fruits, green peppers and broccoli; vitamin E from sunflower oils, almonds, spinach, squash and avocado. I didn’t start learning about vitamin D until I had Raye but it plays a key role in immune function. Not only is it needed for strong bones, vitamin D is important for good overall health; it makes sure your muscles, heart, lungs and brain works together so your body can fight infections. Breastfeeding babies don’t get enough vitamin D from breastmilk so I had to supplement with vitamin D drops. Your body can make vitamin D from sunlight but for those of us that spends a majority of time indoors, foods like fatty fish, egg yolk, mushrooms, or supplements are also a good way to increase your vitamin D levels.
5. PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE
This is common sense, but you’d be surprise at how many adults I see on a daily fudge this up. Viruses are spread by germs from infected people. So when they sneeze, rub their eyes, or blow their nose, they are transferring any virus to door handles, counter tops, keypads on the ATM - surfaces that you yourself could potentially touch. Wash your hands frequently. And don’t forget to sneeze into your elbow!
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