Six essential ways to beat seasonal colds naturally – by Dr. Andrew
Beat those colds during the shorter days of the year.
With the change of season our activities change, our time in the sun and outdoors changes and the temperature and air humidity fluctuates. These factors place different stressors on our bodies and makes for more a common occurrence of immune challenges. After finishing a few Summer months of heavy training and competing at the surf life saving world championships I was enjoying a lighter training schedule and took a very busy short trip to Ireland. The trip was a little too full of long surfs, short sleeps and a few too many Guinness beers! This resulted in a personal bout of ‘man flu’ over the following weeks. It was a classic case of a change in rest levels and overdoing things; leaving my immune system depleted and exposed to an upper respiratory virus which knocked me down with a handy sucker punch.
Normally, being accustomed to enjoying good health, I am a major cry baby when it comes to man flu, colds or other relatively minor immune challenges such as gastro. I find being unwell very frustrating and I struggle with it majorly, much to my normally patient wife’s wavering temperament.
Ultimately, there’s no magic potion or alchemy to avoiding common colds, flus and viruses.
However we can certainly take action to support our wellbeing and state of immune function when there are more challenging environmental conditions such as the change of season into Autumn and the Winter months.
The best way of course, is prevention. Ensuring we are actively living healthy lifestyles which support well functioning immune systems. However I also would like to share, what I do personally on the infrequent times I do experience a cold or flu.
Firstly, it’s important to remember that your body is incredibly intelligent in responding and overcoming immune challenges. Some of the processes it moves through are unpleasant to experience. However, it is important to respect the symptoms you go through and see them as part of your bodies intelligent orchestration rather than an inconvenience, perhaps even when they kind of are for short period of time! We tend to think of a sore throat, a runny nose or high temperature fever as unpleasant things to experience, I definitely do when I get man flu. But the purpose they serve is in fact to overcome invasion of the bodies state of homeostasis (optimal wellbeing/health); from pathogenic bacteria or viruses. For the record, every living day we interact with countless pathogenic bacteria and viruses, it’s only when our immune system is compromised or not adapted to process and overcome these interactions that we have an infection or immune challenge.
Mass marketing of some of the wealthiest companies in the world, has manipulated Western society’sbeliefs into thinking that we’re best off reaching for a paracetamol tablet to stop that high fever, taking sugary antibacterial throat lozenges for a sore throat or pseudo ephedrine for a stuffy nose. These are all quick fixes to treat symptoms.
The reality is that these unpleasant processes your body’s immune response is going through are means to attack the invading pathogens. They create a hostile environment to overcome and kill them. It’s an internal war your body is fighting to battle and overcome, so it’s no wonder you experience some unpleasantness. We need to look a little further than the reflexive instant gratification of a quick symptom fix that is bombarded in media for cold & flu related over-the-counter medications.
Instead of reaching for medicines which will interfere, prolong and inhibit my intelligent immune system’s battle with pathogens. I take as much action to support my clever immune system and recover to optimal health.
Six essential things to do, to beat cold season immune challenges:
- Keep hydrated; not as the old wives tale might suggest ‘to flush out the bug’. It is important however, to hydrate well. Because your lymphatic system is working extra, your nasal & sinus cavities and airway mucosal lining produces lots of slimy snot and phlegm to stop pathogens colonising and to assist in phagocytosis (eating the bad pathogens!). You’re producing and loosing more fluids so you need to support the body in ensuring these responses can work effectively.
- Mind the sugar. Refined sugar inhibits your immune function 1, 2 . Often your appetite is less with infections and you may even crave comfort foods but take the effort to ensure you’re eating foods that support your body to be well and not work against it.
- Fresh is best: lots of leafy green veg, fresh antioxidant rich foods, for good measure include lots of garlic and ginger; both have antimicrobial properties. Garlic is a healthy source of immune supporting zinc. Also utilise these ‘super immune’ foods: antioxidants & vitamin C rich citrous fruit and berries. Fresh or lightly cooked wild mushrooms, nana’s real stock chicken soup really is the business. Also nature’s silver bullets; olive leaf extract & astragalus (these last two are not advised for pregnant women).
- Get plenty of rest & extra sleep. Your body can work harder to over come things if you give it more rest and recovery time.
- Keep warm, and let it burn-baby-burn; fevers aren’t nice but they’re particularly not nice for offending pathogens attacking your body; raising the temperature disables protein structures and functions of the infecting pathogens. Fever has been revealed in research to boost the function of immune cells, obviously keep a check of sustained extremely high temperatures and seek emergency medical help where necessary.
- Get adjusted by your Chiropractor! Research conducted in 2011 demonstrated that Chiropractic care positively impacts against the body’s response to stress 3. It is well documented now that stress has many negative effects on our health including; limiting sleep quality and inhibiting our immune function. So get adjusted to reduce the impact stress has on your sleep quality!
Written by Dr. Andrew Harvey (Chiropractor).