12 Tips to Stay Healthy During Cold & Flu Season and Year-Round
by Cassendre Xavier
Recently it has come up in so many conversations I’d had with friends and associates that I have gone over two years without having a cold.
Since it has run over and over in my mind the various tricks and habits I’ve shared with others as to how I’ve managed this, I thought it might be helpful to write it down and share it with you as well!
Here are some of the things I do to stay free of colds and flu, during winter, and indeed year-round!
Rinse and gargle twice daily with warm salt water (or 50/50 hydrogen peroxide with water). I read once in an online article that it isn’t so much contact with germs that we have every day - it’s the proliferation of them. Meaning, you have contact with people every day who breathe, cough, and sneeze around you. You breathe in their germs every day. If you gargle with a germ-killing formula in the morning, and at night before bed, you are dislodging and removing most of those germs, and killing the ones that remain. You can also do warm salt-water nasal irrigation (neti pot), for the same effect. While I have experienced nasal irrigation and very much enjoy the soothing feel of the warm salt water in my sinuses, when busy I find it just as helpful to gargle in the morning and at night. This works not only to prevent colds and flu but also to stop one in its tracks of beginning. For instance, last week I felt the signs of a cold coming on: there was a tickle and dryness in my throat, and the glands under my jaw felt swollen and tender. I ran and not walked, to my container of kosher salt and gargled immediately, as well as several more times that evening, not including my usually scheduled before bedtime gargle. The symptoms went away for about an hour, then returned for a few minutes, then I gargled again with warm saltwater, and I did this a few times in the evening, and a few times in the morning, and after that the symptoms were gone entirely! Using natural methods such as this may take more time and effort, but most of the time they are much better for our health, the environment, and also our budgets! (Compare the cost of salt, for example, to cough medicine!)
Kefir. This is a type of yogurt, which, per serving, contains twice as many live active cultures as the regular kind. Because of this feature, this creamy, slightly tart, delicious drink makes a wonderful digestive aid in addition to significantly improving your immune system.
Garlic. I don’t put this in the food category, because it’s like a medicine to me! Delicious as a flavoring agent, I also believe in eating it straight up. I saw a YouTube video once which was very helpful. The host of the show was a black woman over the age of 60 who demonstrated how to eat garlic with the least amount of odiferous effect on the body. She minced it, then added a spoonful of peanut butter, then swallowed that practically whole. Don’t chew, she advised. I would also add the following tips to deodorize the body if you find that eating large amounts of garlic are helpful to you for whatever reason:
Eat lots of fresh leafy greens, as the chlorophyll in them is a natural internal deodorizer. b
Drink apple cider vinegar - put some in your water, and this also will reduce the smell of garlic.
Chew parsley. Also, eat it. (See chlorophyll above!)
Rest. The more tired you are, the more likely you are to catch a cold. The more rested you are, the better you’ll be able to fight off the germs that become colds.
Eat more healthful foods. The more vitamins, nutrients, and enzymes you consume, the healthier you’ll be and better able to fight off colds and flu.
Avoid harmful foods. Dr. Laila O. Afrika, author of African Holistic Health, says that colds are not viruses but the body creating mucus to rid it of toxins we ingest. He says that when we eat too many junk foods, salt, sugar, white flour, too much meat, and so forth, we overload the body with these “non-foods” as he calls, them, and the body wants nothing more than to get rid of it! Notice that when you’re ill or “have a cold”, your nose is running. You have a cough, and ideally it is a “productive” cough. This is your body, Afrika says, creating a way to get rid of what it can’t use and what’s actually hurting it. So, the mucus that the over-the-counter drugs are supposed to get rid of, is actually your friend. Isn’t the body infinitely wise and amazing? When I eat too much dairy, my body lets me know right away that it’s not happy - and that’s all I’ll say about that! Listen to your body. If you eat certain foods and notice you’re starting to get cold symptoms, those are not the foods for you. You don’t need cold medicine, just to avoid or maybe even just reduce the amount of those foods you were eating. I notice right away that after days of eating pasta, bread, or other kinds of white flour), meat, and dairy I start to get cold symptoms. So I know those foods, or too much of them, are not good for me.
Reduce stress. Similar to making sure you’re well-rested, stress, a major killer, is something that having too much of will render you unable to adequately fight off a cold or flu. Reducing the stress in your life will have many health benefits, only one of which will be allowing you to more easily prevent illnesses of all kinds.
Wash scarves, gloves, jackets, and bags weekly. I try to have only machine washable everything! There are few things that give me as much pleasure in the world than tossing stuff into the washing machine, and then have them emerge from the dryer soft, clean, and ready to use again, knowing that the germs from walking about town and being on public transportation have been washed away! Remember, you make contact with many objects and airborne particles, on your hands, which you then put to your face, eyes, nose, and mouth. The scarf that so well protected you in sub-degree winter weather, snowstorms and blizzards is the same scarf that will return those snotty germs to you over and over again until you wash that bad boy! Once a week, throw all the things you regularly wear or use, into the wash, and this will make you healthier and more comfortable all around.
Sanitize personal and work computer/keyboards and telephones. I keep bottles of rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer all over the place. And no, I’m not obsessive-compulsive! I’m just aware of germs and I try to keep my environment free of unnecessary extra ones! Every couple of weeks or so, I alcohol wipe the computer keyboard, mouse, telephone, and other electronic shared equipment where I staff, and also at my current dormitory style residence. I also do this to my own cell phone and computer. I believe this helps my co-staffers and roommates stay healthier year-round.
Wash your hand frequently. I read once that triclosan and the current wave of anti-bacterial everything (dishwashing liquid? Really?) is actually making the bacteria we’re trying to kill come back stronger. Yikes! Whatever happened to good ol’ fashioned frequent hand-washing with plain ol’ regular bar soap? Or plain ol’ regular liquid soap? Not something one might use to wipe out an entire species of critters? We don’t need that, do we? I wish everyone would take hand-washing breaks, and every couple of hours, go wash their hands with an unscented, very mild soap rich in glycerine that would make our skin soft, pliant, and comfortable! Yes, I wash my hands a lot, and I always have with me my favorite kind of soap to use, because I don’t trust what’s in most public bathrooms these days. That stuff is made in chemical laboratories, most of which are manufactured by companies whose last interest is protecting my skin or our environment. Plain soap is just fine enough for me. I want to wash the dirt, germs, and bacteria way, not nuclear reactor them!
Drink plenty of water. Water will flush away what ails ya. All kinds of things will be better in your body if and when you give it the ample amount of water it needs to stay internally juicy and make all your organs run as they should. It will give you plumper, younger looking skin, it will keep you “regular”, which will also make you healthier, as you are getting rid of waste, which includes the germs that your body is exposed to in various ways. Drinking water may even also elevate your mood, which is stress relief, and which also increases your immune system, which helps you fight colds and flu. I’m sure you don’t need to hear it yet again from yet another source, but: Drink more water!
Believe you are a persun who does not catch colds! Our thoughts are so powerful! I believe the most effective thing you can do to prevent colds and flu is to believe you’re not the type of person who gets sick. View yourself as a hearty persun with stellar health and a mighty strong immune system. I heard Abraham-Hicks say once that it isn’t what we eat that makes us fat, but what we believe about what we’re eating. I believe that’s true and that helps prove that point is skinny people who eat fatty foods often and don’t seem to gain an ounce. It’s not that they have extra fast metabolisms, and no, they’re not throwing it up, either - be nice! It’s that they’re not stressed about what they’re eating, and they also do other activities that support their ability to eat that way and not gain weight: For instance, they eat moderately. And they exercise in various ways because they enjoy the activity in their lives as much as they enjoy being able to eat whatever they want. Nowhere in any of that is their worrying about the food making them fat. They’re just enjoying life, and part of life is eating and moving our bodies. Similarly with thinking good thoughts about our health insofar as avoiding colds and flu, goes, once we focus on just having a pleasant winter, staying clean, eating well, being hydrated, well-rested, exercising, reducing stress, and taking those extra immune-building steps, we will find that the power of our minds, how we think of ourselves and our health, will go a long way in helping us reach your goals of health, including having it throughout the entire year. Enjoy!
Cassendre Xavier is a Leeway Transformation Award-Winning multi-media healing artist who has been writing at Wisdom Magazine since May 2009. Her Wisdom articles range from spirituality to raw foods to bipolar disorder to romance and relationships. To read her Wisdom article archives, please click here or on her name at the top of the screen. For more information about Cassendre, please visit http://cassendrexavier.com.