There's no denying it, we are in the thick of cold and flu season. If you're not sick then chances are at least one person around you is: a family member; someone at work; someone at the store you were just at or even someone at the gym.
Since the flu virus is not the cartoon version commonly seen in commercials, it is hard to tell when you are being exposed to it. Other times, despite your best efforts, you still get sick. So what do you do when you finally admit that you're sick?
Hydration, hydration, hydration! A glass of water may not be all that appetizing when you're congested and feeling unwell. A glass of orange juice may seem like a good idea but when you're sick, it is better to avoid it. Yes it does contain vitamin C but it also has a lot of sugar, which hinders the body's ability to fight an infection. On the other hand, a cup of hot tea will provide the hydration you need, soothe your throat and ease your congestion. Depending on the type of tea, it can be full of antioxidants and other immune boosting herbs. If you feel vitamin C helps you then you can always add some fresh squeezed lemon to your tea for the benefits. If tea is not something you keep in the house then hot water with fresh squeezed lemon, honey and ginger is soothing and therapeutic.
It is common to lose your appetite when you're sick and the thought of food isn't that appealing. However, food is important to help your body fight your infection. Chicken noodle soup is a favorite comfort food for many of us and it is an excellent choice. The broth is warm and soothing and the chicken provides protein, which our bodies still need in an easily digestible form. Garlic and onions are great to have in your soup, as they are antimicrobials.
Sweating is important to help aid your body. This does not mean going to the gym and continuing with your regular work out while the very thought of movement is exhausting. Rather, the steam room or sauna are excellent ways to help your body sweat out the toxins. If those are not easily accessible then a hot shower or a bath can be helpful and soothing for those body aches too!
Rest is essential. Your energy levels are not the same as when you are healthy and the smallest tasks can leave you exhausted. In your typical daily life you may be a superhero but when you're sick you need to rest and that doesn't mean working from home for the day. It means sleeping as much as you need and doing nothing. You may have a lot going on in your life that taking a sick day seems difficult but by pushing through it when you're sick, it will take you longer to recover. Give yourself the few days to sleep and rest so you can return to your old superhero self faster.
It is also important to remember the simple things we do to avoid getting sick. Cover your mouth when you sneeze, wash your hands often and avoid touching your face. The last thing you want to do is pass your germs to those around you. It is no fun being sick but it is also stressful being around other sick people when the constant fear of getting sick again remains so to avoid being ill again limit the spread of your germs.
Probiotics can help boost your immune system and fight your infection. They are thought to stimulate the immune system, inhibit pathogens thus reducing their colonization. Probiotics are strain and dose specific but you always want to look for one that is a live culture and requires refrigeration. There are numerous natural products on the market for colds and flu's and certain ones are better for specific symptoms. Rather than relying on the internet to figure out which one might work for you, be sure to talk to someone who knows natural health products to ensure you are taking the right one for you. If your symptoms worsen or you are not getting better after a few days, then consult your health care provider.
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine in Okotoks and Calgary.
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113 - 109 Southbank Blvd
Okotoks AB T1S 0G1
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