Did you know that the common cold is actually known as the ‘rhinovirus?’ Does that mean that this tiny microscopic scoundrel, thousands of which can fit into one single cell of your body, resembles a rhino in its appearance? Probably not! Still, it can almost feel like a rhino has run over you. Fever, headache, sneezing, aches and pains, coughing, chest congestion…how do you stop it in its tracks when it starts charging towards you?
- Avoid sick people. This appears to be the number one preventive measure. If you are sick with a cold, don’t go to work. Telecommute until you are well instead of spreading your germs to your colleagues in the office. If you suspect that someone might be catching a cold, don’t shake their hand or go near them. If sick people won’t quarantine themselves from you, it is time to summon your inner introvert and become a hermit. Sit near a well-ventilated area like a window. If they come towards you for a greeting, smile, wave and disappear!
- Wash your hands. This sounds basic but it astronomically reduces the probability of you catching a cold. Remember, these viruses last for up to 8 hours on doorknobs, toilet handles, supermarket trolleys, light switches, coffee pot handles, microwaves, elevator buttons, television remote controls, keyboards…the list goes on. So you can get infected by someone who left the building hours ago, or even the previous day! Wash your hands repeatedly in the course of the day. By all means, wash your hands before eating and avoid touching your nose and mouth. Touching them will introduce these invisible critters right into your upper respiratory tract – the dance hall where they start to party before taking over your entire body.
- Air your home and office. According to American naturopath Dr Richard Schulze, even in colder weather it is important to let fresh air in and the stale air out. This is because indoor heat dries out airborne bacteria and viruses, preserving them for much longer. Since there is no cross ventilation or proper circulation, confined spaces in cold weather contain a much higher concentration of these germs. So, protect yourselves from infections by airing your rooms daily for a few minutes.
- Strengthen your gut. Fortify your gut, the cradle of your immune system. Do this by drinking lots of organic broth, good fats and fermented foods. Grass fed bone broth and vegan potassium broth contains vital amino acids that seal and repair the walls of your intestine. Fermented foods like traditional porridge, Sauerkraut, Pickles, Kefir, Kombucha, Beet kvass, and fermented Cod liver oil contain trillions of good bacteria. When these friendly bacteria populate your gut, your immunity goes up. Other cold-fighting remedies include Echinacea, Elderberry syrup, Garlic, Neem (muarubaini) Vitamin C and vitamin D. Vitamin D is of paramount importance. Get out in the sun, even in cooler weather, as often as you can.
- Keep warm. Mum was right – bundle up! If you catch a chill, your immune system can be negatively affected. Prolonged exposure to cold and wetness are frowned upon in Traditional Chinese Medicine. TCM is big on heat therapy, making use of heated lamps during many of their therapeutic procedures. They also caution against taking cold drinks. When you drink something cold, your body has to expend precious energy to raise your temperature to homeostasis, which weakens you. They recommend hydrating with healthy hot beverages throughout the day.
- Avoid negativity. Recent findings have shown compelling evidence that a vital component of the immune system is our brain. Patients who practise positive thinking experience increased well being and pain relief, as compared to those who don’t. Stay away from toxic people, chronic complainers and unnecessary bad news. Steer your thought patterns to gratitude and positivity. When down with the sniffles, take the opportunity to focus on wellness and self-care. Defer your pending work until you are healed. Avoid mindless television, especially news reports. Listen to peaceful, calming music and positive podcasts.
- Move your body! Yes, the cold makes us instinctively favour hibernation. Yet we must resist the inclination to become sedentary couch potatoes. Unlike your heart, the lymphatic system does not have its own automatic circulation. This transportation system is powered by one thing – you. If you don’t move your body, the lymphatic fluid slows down and stagnates. Cesspools of old waste harden and calcify, leading to fewer defences, more infections and chronic inflammation. So my friend, even if you are sick – move! Dance, jog, skip, trampoline, lift, hop onto YouTube and do some random exercise routine. Stretch; run up and down the stairs, hoola-hoop, juggle or go for a walk. No matter how old you are or how busy, boost your immunity by practising daily movement.
These are just a few tips to help you beat a cold before it gets you down. What are some of your favourite flu-busters? Join the conversation on our Instagram and Facebook communities.
Author : Tricia Wanjala is a writer, a mother, a wife and a health-nut. She runs Africa’s largest natural hair, wellness, and beauty community over @triciasnaturals.