Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My favorite home remedies for the common cold


I have to admit I’m a bit of a germ freak. Public outings are a dreaded task during the cold and flu season. Shopping can be particularly frightening. In my mind’s eye every item I pick up to place in my cart is covered in cold germs. As I wheel my cart down those isles and I hear my fellow shoppers cough, sneeze, and blow their noses—I cringe and wish for a germless escape. Needless to say, I wash my hands as soon as I make it through the door of my home. I realize that all of this may sound a bit over the top—but simply put, I hate being sick. Due to this aversion to the common cold, I have made it my hobby to find what tricks work best when fighting a cold. Here are my favorites:
First, the basics…
Build your immune system. The best way to fight colds is to be well-prepared before contact with cold germs. The key to a strong immune system is to eat nutritiously. Vitamins such as A, C and the B-vits, and minerals such as iron, zinc, and selenium are crucial components of many immune cell reactions. For this reason, one must eat a diet plentiful in veggies and fruits year-round. One more dietary rule: Simple sugars impair immune function—avoid them like the plague.
Rest. Our immune systems work best when we are in a relaxed state (under the influence of the parasympathetic nervous system). In fact, our immune systems are working in their greatest capacity when we sleep. Make rest a priority.
Liquids.  Our bodies are about 60% water. Water transports molecules, cells, oxygen, and nutrients throughout the tissues of our bodies. Give the nutrients you ingested and your immune cells a chance to circulate! Drink plenty of water, brothy soups, and herb teas.
A few tricks up my sleeve…
Garlic. Garlic is an excellent remedy for viruses such as the common cold as it has been shown to have antiviral activity, decrease recovery time and symptoms, and enhance the immune system’s ability to fight off a cold. Crush or chop a clove of garlic and place it in a cup of warm water. Let steep for 5 minutes before consuming.
Shitake mushrooms. Besides having immune enhancing properties, shitake mushrooms have anti-viral action as well. Add them to your diet—they are great in omelets and salads.
One last important tip…
 Avoid exposure. Wash your hands frequently!

Nancy Silva, ND
Faculty, Kaplan University School of Health Sciences

4 comments:

MMaule said...

Hi Nancy,

I have a similar aversion to being ill with being as goal-directed as I am on a daily basis. I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments about the importance of rest, immune system boosting, and eating garlic. I also like onions and broccoli for antioxidant purposes.

One particular dish that has helped me tremendously when feeling the onset of illnss is to cook an entire chicken in a crockpot with water and garlic powder, remove the bones, and then add wild rice, corn, carrots, garlic, and onions. When this compilation is added to a regimen of low- to moderate-intensity exercise and 100% orange juice, I have been very successful with fighting negative symptomatology. In fact, I contracted some kind of bug and felt it coming on 2 weeks ago, so I implemented the above remedies. Within 24 hours, I was at 80% capacity and 72 hours I was 100% and back to lifting heavy and being active as usual.

It seems that holistic approaches (at least for me) have been most effective.

I appreciate your thoughts!

Mark

Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness said...

Hi Mark,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts :). I am a huge soup fan myself. During the holidays, I like to take the turkey carcass (no-one else seems to want it ;) and make a huge vat of turkey soup. My favorite additives are onions, carrots, garlic, peppercorns, and kale. I like to freeze my results in several jars and enjoy the benefits for months to come :). Happy Holidays!

Nancy

MMaule said...

Hi Nancy,

One thing that I have always wanted to try, not only with soups, but also with pickling fish is peppercorns. Do you have any suggestions for how many to put in the soups to ensure that it is not overdone with that flavor? For example, for a soup that consists nearly of an entire crockpot?

Mark

Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness said...

Hi Mark,

Hmm. Well, honestly, I just "eyeball" it :). I tend to put a lot of them in, and it seems the peppercorns do not dominate the flavor of the soup. I only notice them when I bite into them :).

Nancy

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