Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Natural Ways to Overcome Sick Season

Seems like everywhere you look, someone or some sign is warning you of the flu. In fact, the CDC is saying this is the worst flu season in over a decade. Besides the flu, there are plenty of colds, coughs, viruses, and general sickness going around. But before you call the doctor, here are some ways to avoid sickness and treat it if you've caught it.

1. Decrease Sugar Intake (Or Eliminate Altogether If You're Already Sick)
Just one teaspoon of sugar suppresses your immune system for up to 5 hours after consumption. Eat sugar several times a day, and you're setting your immune system up for hard work to have to deal with sugar so it can't protect you from sickness as effectively.

2. Increase Vegetable Intake
Your body is always striving for homeostasis/balance and needs a balanced pH level. Sugar, white grains, caffeine, etc. provide acidic ash for your body to process and when your body is working to neutralize itself, it naturally gives less attention to fighting disease. Veggies and certain fruits help keep your body alkaline and properly balanced, and additionally contain many helpful vitamins and nutrients to strengthen your immune system.

3. Sleep Well
Sleeping at least 7-8 hours a night gives your body the chance to rejuvenate and heal itself. Lack of sleep is lack of sufficient melatonin secretion, which in turn suppresses your immune system.

4. Hydrate
Drink half your body weight in ounces of water a day... add a little lemon to help your body's pH balance out. Dehydration even in the slightest amount reduces your body's ability to fight disease. Drinking water also helps keep your cells and mucous membranes (which keep invaders out of your body) soft and moist which help them fight germs better.

5. Wash Your Hands
But stay away from hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial soaps! They not only kill the bad germs, but also the beneficial bacteria that keep your body balanced. Excessive use can also lead to anti-biotic resistant bacteria, which is a growing issue. Most of the hand sanitizers and anti-bac soaps contain triclosan which is a dangerous chemical linked to endocrine issues, as well as mass amounts of alcohol. Alcohol dries the skin which can invite bacteria into the body through the dry and cracked skin. So, to keep your hands clean, use normal, non-anti-bac soap and warm water as much as possible. But, when you're on the go and don't have a sink nearby, you can make your own hand-sanitizer with aloe vera gel, witch hazel, and tea tree oil. Another option would be to use a spritz bottle with water and a little bit of plain soap (such as baby mild castile soap).

So, what if you're already sick or have a cold... sore throat, cough, running nose, etc. Here are some ways to get healthy again. (In addition to the preventative tips already listed above)

1. Drink warm tea with honey and lemon
Sore throats can be painful, so to soothe them try making some mild tea (like chamomile) and adding a healthy dose of honey and some lemon juice. It's actually quite tasty and coats even the sorest of throats and calms coughs. Add ginger if you've got stomach issues (or not - it's yummy too), and a little cayenne pepper if you can handle it, as it will kill bacteria especially if you have strep. 

2. Coconut oil
Mix a tablespoon or two of coconut oil in with your tea or soup. It has anti-microbial properties and is an anti-viral plus it is just a great supplement all around -- don't just take it when you're sick. :)

3. Drink bone broth
Make some broth out of a good quality whole chicken or beef bone. (Super simple - just stick it in a pot on the stove on low with water and let simmer overnight) It contains natural gelatin which will help balance your intestinal flora (you want more good bacteria than bad in your gut so you don't get sick) and hydrate your cells and membranes. It also has amino acids that help cleanse your body of toxins, and contains a ton of nutrients to help heal. Add some seasalt to replenish elecrolytes, especially if you have cold sweats.

4. Don't treat your fever
This could be a blog post in and of itself, but basically, your body uses the fever to kill the germs. Now, I do believe at a point (fever over 104 for more than a day, etc.) they should be treated but by and large, fevers are beneficial. Read this article for all the reason's why: http://modernalternativehealth.com/2012/09/14/why-not-to-treat-a-fever/#.UQBOMSdfCHg

5. Use essential oils
Peppermint and eucalyptus oils in a humidifier or applied directly to your chest can help coughs and sore throats. Ginger, lavender, and peppermint oils behind your ears or onto your stomach can help upset stomachs and vomiting.

And please, please, please don't get the flu shot and don't give it to your children. It's a guessing game on what strains of flu it will actually protect from and contains dangerous ingredients that could actually weaken your immune system. Use the $30 you were going to spend on a flu shot to invest in aforementioned ingredients from tips above instead. Again, this could be a whole other blog post but here are some articles to read if you're considering getting one:

Sometimes your body just gets sick and that's reality. Being sick sometimes is normal, getting sick every month is probably a symptom of a bigger health problem. I get sick about once a year and am usually down for at least four or five days but that is usually about it - this year it was strep throat (not 100% sure it was strep... but some kind of throat thing), last year it was a stomach bug. It ALWAYS happens the week between sports - this year the week between volleyball and basketball, last year the week between basketball and track - so at least now I know and can be prepared. ;)

What about you? What sorts of remedies do you find helpful?

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