The common cold is used to describe a cluster of typical symptoms - sneezing, sinus congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and headaches – but can actually be caused by more than 35 different viral strains. And each of these strains can adapt and mutate.
So yes, there is ALWAYS something going around.
The question is: are you vulnerable?
While we commonly think of October-March as “cold and flu season”, I tend to disagree. Yes, viruses are more common during this time. On the other hand, we are also busier and more stressed. Between Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanza, New Years, Valentines Day and Easter sugar consumption is at an all time high. Most Canadians are deficient in Vitamin D – a potent immune support – unless we are also snow birds. We spend a lot more time indoors, breathing recycled air.
So while colds are more common, we also have the odds stacked against us and our bodies aren’t always able to ward off viruses and bugs.
The trick is building up your body’s resistance – since coming across the cold is inevitable – so that you are better able to withstand or bounce back quicker.
1. Eat more colorful vegetables. Different colors of vegetables offer different vitamins, antioxidants and healing properties so it’s a great idea to change up what you are eating. Almost all of us could stand to eat more too. Aim for 7 + servings per day. One serving is 2 handfuls of greens or 1 cup of other veggies.
2. Reduce exposure. Wash your hands with regular soap and water. Unless you are required to use hand sanitizer skip antibacterial hand soaps and sanitizers as many contain an ingredient called triclosan that is a known hormone disrupter. While we can’t always avoid exposure, keep your distance from people that are sick. Bring your own pen to the bank, keep tissues handy and wipe down common area surfaces with soap and water.
3. Go to bed. Getting enough sleep throughout the year is crucial. If you do get sick, stay home and rest to avoid infecting others. Unless you absolutely have to be somewhere, skip over-the-counter decongestants that contain acetaminophen… they are incredibly dehydrating. Your best bet is NOT pushing through the cold, but allowing your body the down time that it needs. While you’re at it, trying Magic Socks.
4. Drink lots of fluids. Ginger tea is one of my favorites, and plain water hot or cold is essential. Sneezing and coughing are incredibly dehydrating! Keep a humidifier in your bedroom also.
5. Make an individualized plan. Every year I run an Immune Booster program with my clients to keep them in tip top shape throughout the season. I find that a combination of herbals, homeopathics and vitamins customized to their needs, along with the above treatments, has been incredibly effective for reducing the risk of colds & flu and in the event that they do get sick, it is much less severe and passes quickly.
What are your favorite go-to treatments to get over a cold? Comment below!
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- Abhimanyu, Coussens AK. The role of UV radiation and vitamin D in the seasonality and outcomes of infectious disease. Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2017 Jan 12. doi: 10.1039/c6pp00355a. [Epub ahead of print]
- Borella E, Nesher G, Israeli E, Shoenfeld Y. Vitamin D: a new anti-infective agent? Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2014 May;1317:76-83. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12321. Epub 2014 Mar 4.
- Bartley J. Vitamin D, innate immunity and upper respiratory tract infection. J Laryngol Otol. 2010 May;124(5):465-9. doi: 10.1017/S0022215109992684. Epub 2010 Jan 13.
- Environmental Working Group: Guide to Triclosan http://www.ewg.org/research/ewgs-guide-triclosan