Fall and winter are prime-time for colds, influenza (flu), and other respiratory illnesses. We’re all vulnerable to contagious viruses due in large part to people spending more time indoors with others when the weather gets cold.
Check out these natural prevention tips to avoid catching a cold or the flu this year.
Homemade Chicken Soup
Seems mom may be right about chicken soup. A handful of studies show the ingredients in chicken soup (chicken stock, carrots, onion, and celery) really could have medicinal value. One researcher set out to determine why chicken soup might help colds. He found the soup stopped the movement of neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cell that defends against infection. Ultimately, chicken soup helps reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms.
Another study on chicken soup shows it helps increase the movement of mucus in the nose, and also improves the function of protective cilia, the tiny hair-like projections in the nose that prevent potential infections from entering the body.
Another tip is to add veggies to your soup because it’s known that a nutrient-rich diet builds your immune system and fights inflammation.
The flu is a respiratory infection caused by a virus that infects the nose, throat, and lungs. The flu is most common during winter and can cause fever, chills, sore throat, cough, body aches, and fatigue. How does vitamin D play a role? Well, vitamin D is an important part of the immune system, and studies have shown people who have low vitamin D levels may have a higher chance of getting the flu.
How Does Vitamin D3 Boost Your Immune System? Prepare to get nerdy and talk science…
There are vitamin D receptors found on cells in the immune system, and vitamin D can bind to these receptors. Vitamin D works in the immune system by reducing levels of inflammatory proteins called cytokines, as well as increasing amounts of antimicrobial proteins, which destroy invading germs and viruses. This combination of lowering inflammation and increasing antimicrobial defenses can help your immune system fight infections better.
Like chicken noodle soup, drinking hot liquids also helps briefly increase the movement of mucus in the nose, and this happens through the nasal inhalation of water vapor. Green tea is a good additions since it’s full of antioxidants, which will boost your immune system even when you're already sick. Consider drinking a cup of hot tea or water 2x/day.
Many studies show taking some echinacea products when cold symptoms are first noticed can modestly reduce symptoms of the common cold in adults.
Using a neti pot is a natural solution for gently washing away mucous, bacteria, pollen, allergens, and viruses from the sinuses. There’s one main sinus a neti pot flush can reach—the maxillary sinus, which is on either side of your nose—basically inside the “cheek bone.” When they fill with pus or mucous, it hurts. Not only does it hurt, it provides a further haven for more bacteria and viruses as the immune system cannot enter because it’s too plugged.
Check out this blog about how to use a neti pot.
Monolaurin is made from lauric acid, which is found in coconut milk and breastmilk. Monolaurin is thought to have antibacterial, antiviral, and other antimicrobial effects, that may help prevent and treat the common cold, flu, and other infections.
The science behind how monolaurin works is by incorporating itself into the cell membrane of bacteria, blocking its replication, which makes it easier for your immune system to take care of. You can get monolaurin at most health food stores.
All-in-all, eat a healthy, balanced diet, wash your hands often, exercise regularly, and sleep well.
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods
Influenza. Vitamin D Council.
Monolaurin Incorporates Into Gram Positive Bacteria Cell Membranes. Appl Environ Microbiol. Tokarskyy O, Marshall DL.