woman blowing nose in the winter cold

It’s official: we’re in cold and flu season. It’s already a stressful time of year, and hardly the ideal time to be completely wiped out for a week or more fighting off the myriad of illnesses abundant at this time of year.

First of all, let’s break down the differences between flu and the common cold. Colds are often fairly mild, and can include delightful symptoms such as sore throats, coughs, headaches, sinus pressure, sneezing, and both blocked and runny noses. Lovely. The flu, on the other hand, is the common cold on steroids. Think all of the above symptoms, but stronger, and including more aches and pains, nausea, stomach pains, and fevers. And of course, both come with the added bonus of leaving you feeling completely run down and exhausted.

So what can you do to protect yourself and prevent getting ill in the first place, and what steps can you take to fight off an illness you already have? The most effective remedies, it turns out, are the also the most simple. Here, I’ve pulled together some of the most effective natural remedies for staying healthy and getting back on your feet as soon as possible.


Bundle Up


Bundle up: First, a disclaimer: it’s a myth that you catch a cold from physically being cold. The common cold is a virus, and is spread through contact with germs, either from contact with other people who are ill, on surfaces, or through the air. Being tired, cold, or otherwise run down, though, means a weaker immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to the infection. Staying warm and comfortable will ensure your body is in the best possible condition for fighting off colds or flu before they can get worse.


Good hygiene: Due to cold and flu viruses being spread via contact with germs, practising good hygiene and keeping hands clean is one of the most effective ways to halt their spread. Unless you leave the house every day dressed in an impenetrable hazmat suit and avoiding all possible contact with humans, you’re going to come into contact with germs one way or another. Frequent hand washing and avoiding touching your face after touching commonly used surfaces is a far more practical solution.


Sleeping in front of tree


A good night’s sleep: I can’t stress this enough: get some rest! Chronic sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your immune system and leave you more susceptible to catching illnesses, as well as making it much harder to recover from them once you have them. A quality night’s sleep will work wonders for both brain and body, and giving your body the opportunity to recover and repair itself can be the key to halting illnesses before they can even take off. If you feel yourself getting run down, the best remedy is to take a step back and give your body the opportunity to let itself recover before things get out of hand.


food on lap


Eat well: Your body needs to be working at peak efficiency to quickly dispel illnesses, and the best way to get it there is to make sure it’s getting the good fuel it needs. Vitamins C, D, and E are all important ingredients for a healthy immune system, so get plenty of fresh fruits and veggies wherever you can. However, it’s a bit of a myth that pumping yourself full of vitamins when you’re already ill will speed up your recovery (though it certainly won’t hurt) – their benefits come in the form of keeping you healthy in the first place. Food-wise, hot soups in particular are not only an excellent comfort food, but are also an excellent remedy for when you’re feeling run down. Stock them up with vegetables for nutrients, add some pepper to help clear your sinuses, include some chicken or tofu for protein, and let the heat clear a stuffed-up head. Magic.

December 07, 2018 — Eleni Mills

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