As we navigate one of the worst public health crises of our lifetimes, something ominous looms on the horizon. With a severe cold and flu season ahead, as well as a surge of COVID-19 cases, it’s important to be proactive with your health and, to be frank, honest about the reality: most of us will get sick at some point or another this winter! However, armed with common-sense practices (like wearing a mask, avoiding crowded spaces, and washing hands for thirty seconds with soap and hot water!), and our list of 10 tried and true home remedies, we can all make it through the season unscathed.
In football, they say the best defense is a good offense, and the same goes for your health. Keeping your body in tip-top shape reduces your risk of catching a cold or other communicable illness. Here are five things that, if added to your regular routine, can help keep you healthy all season long:
- Reducing Stress. Stress wreaks havoc on our entire body, particularly the immune system. Corticosteroids, released when the body is under stress, suppress the immune system, meaning you’ll be less able to fight off viruses and infections.
- Getting regular exercise. Regular, moderate exercise supports a healthy immune system by increasing the circulation of immune cells throughout the body.
- Eating Vitamin C-rich foods. Vitamin C helps maintain your immune system, preventing illness and helping you recover quickly. Try to add produce like oranges, strawberries, red peppers, and broccoli into your diet on a daily basis.
- Cleaning regularly. This keeps you, your house, and anyone who visits or lives with you safe from germs! Wiping down often-touched surfaces, like counters and doorknobs, stops viruses from spreading.
Top 10 Home Remedies
Of course, nobody wants to get sick. But if you do fall ill despite taking preventative measures, these ten home remedies will have you feeling better in no time.
- Shorten symptoms with a zinc supplement. Experts believe that zinc can shorten the duration of a cold, because it prevents the rhinovirus (the virus responsible for most common colds) from reproducing in the body.
- Stave off bacteria and viruses with garlic. Add a hefty amount of this antibacterial, antiviral superfood into your soup, make garlic toast with fresh, diced garlic, or make a simple broth by boiling carrots, celery, half an onion, and as much garlic as you can in a big pot of water.
- Relieve coughing with soothing honey. Plus, honey’s microbial properties allow it to fight off some bacteria and viruses. Stir a heaping spoonful into tea, or even just hot water with a slice of lemon, to feel results almost instantly.
- Reduce nausea and indigestion, as well as coughing, with oregano oil. Often used for respiratory support, oregano oil supports bile flow, which reduces indigestion and promotes a healthy gut.
- Soothe your throat with a salt water gargle. Dissolve ¼-½ teaspoon of table salt into an 8oz glass of warm water to pull out undesirable fluids from throat tissues and soothe a scratchy throat irritated by post nasal drip.
- Flush your nose with a neti pot. Neti pots use a medical grade saline solution to rinse particles and mucus from your nose, preventing illness and alleviating cold symptoms.
- Get a good night’s sleep by propping your head up to encourage any congestion to drain from your sinuses overnight. A hot compress on your face as you relax in bed supports this process. Sleep is critical for healing – it’s when your body produces important proteins that help fight infection and inflammation!
- Open airways with menthol-based treatments. You can make your own vapor-rub by adding a few drops of mint, tea tree, or eucalyptus essential oils to your favorite lotion or vaseline and rubbing on your chest before bed to support easy breathing all night.
- Reduce congestion and draw out toxins by taking a hot bath with epsom salts. The humidity and steam from the hot water will ease congestion, and the epsom salts will help draw out toxins and reduce body aches.
- Reduce Inflammation with spices like cloves, cayenne, turmeric, black pepper, ginger, and cinnamon. You can make a warm, soothing beverage like golden milk (warm milk blended with cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg, and black pepper) or a cup of bone broth with a dash of cayenne.
Despite the threat of cold and flu season fast approaching, we can all stay happy and healthy. With common sense health practices like washing our hands, staying home to stop the spread, and incorporating natural preventative measures into our daily routines, we will make it through the season. If you do end up under the weather, using these antimicrobial home remedies should help – but always be sure to check in with your primary care physician if your symptoms persist or get worse.