It's that time of year (bleurgh) - learn how I've massively reduced the number of colds and flu bugs I get with an array of prevention tips and natural remedies ...
It's that time of year: my turtle doves
are on (just the best, warming finger-less cashmere ‘gloves' that save me turning on the central heating too much and help manage my arthritis pain when it flairs up! Awesome business too that recycles unwanted cashmere and silk - perfect gift for someone who has everything - and I'm not being paid to say that, the products are just ace!).
Bugs abound at this time of year as it gets colder and all our lovely children are back at school sharing their germs, joy! Whenever I used to get a cold, I'd do the usual: grab every kind of cold and flu tablet and hot drink going (plus some throat lozenges for good measure) and ‘dose up' … and continue to feel like cr*p for days, sound familiar?
PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE …
Along my Paleo journey, I realised there were ways to preventing colds and flu-type bugs and I thought I'd share them below (I'm sure there's plenty of others so do feel free to add them in the comments!):
1. Avoid grain, sugar and legumes – I know, Paleo, right, who'd have thunk it?! Keeping these food groups out of your body as much as possible (along with other toxins) means your body - specifically your gut where 80% of your immune system resides - is naturally at it's highest immunity to help ward off colds and flu. Hand on heart, I get a fraction of the cold and flu bugs that I used to and I credit Paleo living with that (hoping I've not tempted fate by saying that, ha!).
2. Improve your Vitamin D levels
– research has shown it helps build your immune system and therefore reduces your risk of these bugs and also helps shorten the duration of anything you do get. Did you know Vitamin D is actually a hormone? Well you do now ;-) Vitamin D becomes harder to get ‘enough' of (the recommended daily dosage is at least 600 IU – 800 IU if you're over 70) and in food is found mostly in oily fish such as Mackerel, Herring & Salmon
(note that wild salmon has 4 times as much Vitamin D than farmed salmon). Very few people get enough from food alone so you need sunlight
(darn you winter!) or supplements
(get a GOOD one, my go to is from Nutri Advanced)
. I use my supplement during the winter months only but many take it all year round: you should get advice from a nutritionist as to how much you needed and how often, our Vitamin D needs are very personal to us as individuals.
3. Get more sleep – oh how I laugh as I type this! Although to be fair, my 9 month old is starting to sleep through better now, so the quality of my sleep is improving at last! Insufficient sleep lowers your immune threshold which makes you a perfect breeding ground for bugs (nice mental picture there eh haha!).
4. Exercise – again, I'm chuckling to myself – does running around after my 3 boys count?! Before boy no.3 arrival, I was doing a lot of exercise and there was definitely a correlation between the reduced number of bugs I got and the amount of exercise I did. It bolsters your immune system and keeps those bugs at bay.
5. Bone broth – full of wonderful probiotics that will boost your gut and immune system to keep the bugs at bay. Drink it by the mug-ful or use it as a base in stews, soups and sauces. Any other probiotics in fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi will also help!
- At the very first hint of a sniffle or flu-ache, grab a bottle of Echinacea drops
(I use this one - A Vogel Echinaforce Echinacea Drops 100ml
) and dose up as per the instructions. This definitely stopped my last ‘cold' in its tracks and has helped worsen the effects of others.
So those are the over-arching things you can do to stop these pesky bugs from coming to fruition but we are human and we are all susceptible sometimes. So, what can you do if you're feeling lousy?
NATURAL REMEDIES FOR COLD AND FLU SYMPTOMS …
Well, step away from all those over-the-counter products which are mainly paracetamol, caffeine, sweeteners and a cocktail of chemicals doing lord knows what to your body. As usual, it doesn't address the root cause, just alleviates the symptoms … a bit … if you're lucky.
Instead, try any of the following, all of which are paleo-friendly:
1. Hot lemon, ginger and honey – no, not that over the counter powdery sugary goop. Boil the kettle, put a slice of lemon, ginger and teaspoon of raw honey in your mug, mix and sip (I personally leave the ginger and lemon in but you can take it out after infusing for 5 minutes if you prefer). You can also add some cinnamon or cayenne pepper to reduce your congestion and fever.
2. Elderberry syrup
– this stuff rocks! It's the only I've found that shifts coughs for me but it's a great all-round tincture to have in your cupboard – I buy Pukka Pukka Herbs Elderberry Syrup 100ml
and always have a bottle in the cupboard ready to go during the winter.
3. Nettle leaf tea – it helps you stay hydrated and removes toxins while supporting your immune system.
4. Eat foods rich in Vitamin C & Zinc to reduce your symptoms and length of illness. Top foods here are peppers, dark green leafy veg, kiwi, broccoli, beef, lamb and seeds.
There are plenty of other options out there that I've not tried yet specifically for colds and flu, including oregano/oregano oil, thyme/thyme oil, mushrooms (yuck, not a fan!), yarrow, chamomile, peppermint, catnip, red clover, gargling apple cider vinegar or even onions and garlic put on your feet at night (eep!).
I hope you find something that works for you and please share the love on social, let's keep everyone feeling well this winter :-)
***Note*** I have added affiliate links to some of the products I buy from Amazon – I only *ever* recommend products I have tried, tested and use in my life because they work. Should you click on any of the links and subsequently buy any of the products, I earn a few pennies (literally) which helps run the sizeable costs of this website – thank you!