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Seasonal Stay Healthy Tips: Cold and Flu

Cold and flu season is upon us and with full lives that include demanding work deadlines, families and other commitments, getting sick can be much more than unpleasant. Being out of commission for days or fighting a lingering cough for weeks is physically depleting and a very real source of stress. Here are six ways to help you ward off illness this Winter as well as lessen the severity and shorten the duration should you catch something:

Learn Your Early Alert Signal:

Our bodies are wise and great communicators, sending us messages constantly. However, many of us choose to ignore the signals until they are screaming at us in the form of illness. Start checking in with your body daily and notice what is showing up. A good time to do this is right when you wake up and again before you go to bed. It’s very likely you have an early alert signal that tells you when you are run down and on the verge of getting sick. In my family, we’ve learned to know that when my son has a sneezing fit in the morning, he’s got something going on. For my husband, he feels a tickle in his throat and I start to feel a little short of breath doing things like going up stairs. For others, it could be an achy neck, increased fatigue, some minor nasal congestion, a headache or a little runny nose. This is your body’s polite way of saying I need some extra care. A little bit of observing can help you catch it early and save you a lot of suffering.

Prioritize Self-Care:

Even when people recognize their early alert signal, most try to ignore, fight or push through the early manageable symptoms in attempt to will themselves better only to find themselves knocked down and unable to get out of bed a few days later or still slogging through with symptoms weeks later. Instead, heed the early alert and prioritize your self-care…go to sleep early, eat warm nourishing foods, drink herbal tea and take a warm bath with Epsom salts. This is often the hardest thing for people to do because of demanding lives so remember that slowing down for a short period will actually allow you to be more engaged and productive in the long run.

Eliminate Dairy

The cold and damp nature of dairy foods, even the healthy ones like Greek yogurt, results in greater mucous production, meaning you’ll have more phlegm in your nose, throat and chest, prolonging and intensifying the symptoms of the cold. So if dairy is part of your diet, skip the milk and cheese as soon as your early alert signal goes off. Dairy also exacerbates allergies so keep in mind come Spring time as well.

Drinking Healing Fluids:

Instead of orange juice, which is cold and full of sugar, choose warm water with lemon and herbal teas with healing properties. If you are experiencing more chills and stuffy nose with clear discharge, go for warming ginger tea. If you have a sore throat, thirst and stuffy nose with yellow/green sputum, go for cooling mint tea. Traditional Medicinals, available at most grocery stores has a great line of herbal teas for all kinds of symptoms. Be prepared and buy before you get sick so it’s one less thing you have to do when you’re feeling bad. Or try our family favorite throat soothing recipe: a mug full of hot water, a teaspoon of turmeric, the juice of half lemon and a heaping tablespoon of honey to taste.

Allow Your Body to Release Toxins

We clear away toxins by sweating, through our bowels, vomiting and out our nose so whenever possible, minimize medications like fever reducers or nasal decongestants, which mask but don’t cure symptoms and can inhibit our body’s natural defense mechanisms. This goes for kids as well…Fevers are one of the body’s most powerful ways of clearing illness and a sign on health. This does not apply to infants under six months however, where fever can be the sign of a serious issue Learn more and always check with your pediatrician if you have concerns.

See Your Acupuncturist

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help boost your body’s defenses as well as reduce stress, which in a constant heightened state weakens your immune response. Monthly or seasonal treatments are a great way to maintain your wellness. And get some herbal remedies from your licensed practitioner to have in your medicine cabinet so you’ll be ready at the first sign of a cold, which will strengthen your body’s natural healing abilities to fight off the illness. Missed the preventive step and are already sick, a visit to your acupuncturist can help alleviate symptoms and clear the pathogen out of your body more quickly.

Be Well, Juliet