Natural prevention of colds, coughs and flu
8 Natural Ways to Protect against Colds, Coughs and the Flu
There are many steps you can take to naturally strengthen your immunity, helping to prevent seasonal colds and coughs. By taking care of yourself, if you do become ill, you're more likely to overcome it quickly and are less likely for it to recur or to develop post-viral symptoms including fatigue, weakness, headaches, aches and pains and low mood.
If you're a healthy person, there's something to be said for allowing a common cold to happen and just run its course. Sometimes it's your body's way of clearing out the cobwebs, detoxing and re-tuning, and an opportunity for rest, recovery, eating well and staying hydrated.
Many of the tips mentioned in this article are lifestyle changes you can incorporate into your everyday life all year round to support overall immunity and generally protect you from illness, infection and chronic disease.
Read on for 8 healthy habits and tips to prevent colds, cough and flu.
If you want a robust immune system, it's essential to ensure you stay hydrated, so your body works optimally.
Dehydration may increase your chances of getting colds and flu and encourage a blocked nose and sore throat. Adequate rehydration is essential if you're ill to help you fight off a virus.
Symptoms like fever, coughing, diarrhoea, being sick and a lack of appetite can all contribute to dehydration, so you need to replenish fluids if you're ill.
Water also hydrates the mucous membranes in your nose, preventing germs from reaching your lungs. It can help to ease nasal irritation and regulate your body temperature.
There are so many contaminants in our drinking water these days. Although UK tap water is among the best in the world and safe to drink, it still contains several pollutants, including chlorine and chlorine disinfection by-products, arsenic, aluminium, fluoride, microplastics and trace amounts of discarded medications.
Investing in a good quality water filter can help purify your drinking water and lessen your exposure to harmful toxins. Look for high-quality water filters that alkalise, re-mineralise, and remove most contaminants from your tap water. This will provide life-giving water that feeds your body.
Water structure is also important. We need structured water around our cells to keep them, and consequently us, healthy.
The mineral crystals we use in several of our systems, formed into ceramic balls as filter mechanisms, help improve water structure. Some of the minerals emit infrared light, and light is known to help water structure.
The small antioxidant molecule molecular hydrogen is safe and powerful, helping to protect us from oxidative stress, a precursor to degenerative health and accelerated ageing. Our water filters, including the Biocera Jug Energy Plus and Energy Ion H2 , provide varying amounts of molecular hydrogen. You can also use Hydrotabs daily.
Why not eat your water too? Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of nutritious, structured water. Try cucumber, celery, broccoli, bell peppers, radishes, carrots, sprouts, tomatoes, courgettes, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, melon, citrus fruits, apples, pears, kiwis and berries.
Taking a brisk daily walk can be enormously beneficial for your immunity. It can help improve sleep (essential for strong immunity), reduce joint pain, improve heart health, help to balance blood sugar, reduce cognitive decline and potentially slow the rate of Alzheimer's .
It may also help protect you from colds and flu, and if you do get ill, it may not last as long.
According to Harvard Medical School, a study with over 1000 adults found that those who walked for 20 minutes or more every day, five days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once weekly or less. If the regular walkers did become ill, their symptoms were milder and were over more quickly.
3) Eat well
Many of us know that eating a healthy, balanced diet with a diverse range of brightly coloured vegetables, fruits, and whole foods encourages a robust immune system.
It provides the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients we need to fuel our bodies, function optimally and feel energised. It also enables us to ward off illness and disease more effectively.
A daily portion of dark green leafy vegetables is a wonderful addition to a healthy diet. They contain a wide range of immune-strengthening nutrients, including vitamins K, E and C, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, carotenoids, nitrates, ALA (omega 3), quercetin and antioxidants.
The nitrates in leafy greens also help to protect your liver. This amazing organ has over 500 functions. It's a major detoxifier and helps to store key vitamins as a backup should you need them.
The darker the leaves, the more antioxidants they contain. Try a daily helping of kale, spinach, collard greens, rocket, cabbage, beet greens, turnip tops, chard and bok choy.
If you'd like to boost your daily vegetable intake, you might want to try a nutrient-dense green powder like Green Vibrance. Maximum Vibrance provides the extensive green vibrance blend with an added protein boost.
pHresh Greens is organic, natural and raw with a powerful blend of grasses and green superfoods, including kale, collard greens, spinach and broccoli sprouts. It's great added to juice, water, or a smoothie and doesn't have an overpowering vegetable flavour.
Up your zinc intake
Zinc stimulates immunity, fights infection and reduces inflammation. It can help to lessen the symptoms of a cold while shortening its duration.We don't store zinc in our bodies and need to ensure we get enough of it. So eat zinc-rich foods daily, including:
- Grass-fed beef, lamb, pork, and chicken legs.
- Oysters and other seafood.
- Pumpkin, sesame, hemp seeds and almonds.
- Legumes, eggs, quinoa, brown rice and oats.
If you're concerned you're not getting enough and would like to take a supplement in the UK, the daily RNI for zinc is 7mg for women and 9.5mg for men aged 19 to 50 years. Make sure you don't overdose, as too much zinc can inhibit copper absorption.Zinc administered within the first 24 hours of a cold can help to shorten its duration. The Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews recommends that adults take a daily dose of 75mg throughout a cold.
Vitamin D supplement
5) Take a daily vitamin D supplement
Vitamin D is essential for immunity and protects you from illness. It can help to defend against colds, the flu and other respiratory infections.
During autumn and winter, it's advisable to take a daily vitamin D3 supplement. It's also a good idea to supplement in the summer if you don't get out in the sun very much.
Research suggests that supplementing for protection from colds and flu can be more effective in people whose levels are low. Arguably though, many of us have inadequate levels as we don't go out in the sun enough during the summer and our bodies only store vitamin D for so long.
According to The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the
During the last 18 months, some researchers and doctors have formed an international alliance to encourage governments to increase the daily vitamin D recommendations to 4000 IU as they believe it would reduce COVID hospitalisations.
6) Get plenty of sleep
If you're someone who burns the candle at both ends, you might consider working a regular, replenishing sleep regimen into your every day.
Inadequate sleep can seriously impact your immunity, even in the short term. Over time you can become increasingly vulnerable to ill health, including an increased risk of colds, coughs, flu and other viruses.
Consistently good sleep strengthens your immune system and increases your ability to defend against infection and viruses. It also helps to counteract the adverse effects of stress , which also weakens immunity.
7) Up your antioxidant intake
Antioxidants are an essential part of your natural defence system, helping to protect you from both chronic disease and acute illness.
For example, a small amount of research suggests that low selenium could make you more susceptible to the flu. There is also a question as to whether it can increase vulnerability to Covid-19, though more research is needed.
Selenium-rich foods include brazil nuts, turkey, chicken, eggs, wild salmon, sardines, oats, halibut, mushrooms, sunflower seeds and haricot beans.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to fight infection. A study published by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that higher vitamin C levels from eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables could decrease the risk of respiratory infection. Research also shows that vitamin C does shorten the duration of a cold, particularly in children.
Data from several trials also indicates that very active people like athletes, marathon runners or soldiers may benefit from vitamin C supplements as it could cut the risk of catching a cold by half.
It's best to eat vitamin C foods daily, not just if you become ill. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables should provide healthy amounts of vitamin C, but you may also benefit from supplementing should you become unwell.
Vitamin C foods include bell peppers, leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries and other berries, papaya, oranges and other citrus fruits, tomatoes and green peas.
If you would like to take a supplement, Vibrant Health C provides vitamin C from plants, so you get the synergistic effects of all the nutrients and any other antioxidants in the ingredients, as well as a hit of vitamin C.
Polyphenols are plant compounds, many of which act as antioxidants. Immune7 Premium is a unique concentrated liquid polyphenol concentrate. It is an extract of seven organically grown fruits and a highly concentrated antioxidant-rich supplement that could be of benefit to bolster immunity during the winter months, especially if you have weakened immunity.
8) Look after your gut health
Last but by no means least, looking after your
gut is crucial if you want to stay well at any time of year. Over 70% of your immune system lives in your gut, so nurture it by living a healthy lifestyle and eating a wholesome, varied diet.
Research shows that taking a good quality probiotic encourages a healthy gastrointestinal tract, and they can protect against viral infections, including the common cold and flu.
There are several ways you can help to prevent colds, coughs and flu
There are several ways you can help to prevent colds, coughs and flu during autumn and winter. Though this is a seasonal article, many of the above suggestions can easily be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle all year round to support general health and immunity.
By Rebecca Rychlik, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.
Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.