This is the first article in a three part series How Do I Treat A Cold Naturally? I am showing you how you can support your body, naturally, to recovery quickly from common viruses like the cold.
It all started with a sneeze.
It quickly became a runny nose, a sore throat, a headache…and then I just felt like total garbage.
But I don’t take medicine…usually.
I don’t take medicine unless I am in a situation where either my life depends on it or my level of discomfort has surpassed my pain threshold. And my most recent cold did just that…so I was laying wide awake, with dull, aching sinus pain wondering “How do I treat a cold naturally?”
In part one of this series I am going to go over the most important basics of how you can support your body to do it’s thing and get better without medicine. In the second article we are going to discuss how you can support your body with supplements and other natural methods and in the last article we are going to discuss how to decide when it is time to see a doctor.
You are amazing.
The body has an amazing potential to heal itself when it is faced with a common virus like a cold.
Your nose runs because the mucus is trying to trap the virus and bring it out of your body through your nasal passages, and for the same reason you may have diarrhea. Your temperature rises so that the environment is not favourable for the virus or bacteria to replicate.
And that is why turning to medicine to increase your general comfort, in this case by decreasing your mucus production or lowering your fever, does not sound like a good plan.
You need to understand that sometimes when you medicate your body, you are basically tying your immune system’s hands behind its back so that it cannot use its natural defences to deal with the virus.
*Caveat: in the case of serious illness sometimes it necessary to use medicine so that your body can heal…here, were are talking about common viruses and healthy people.
Let’s go through some tips on how you can make yourself more comfortable and support your body through the process of dealing with a virus, without trying to medicate the symptoms away and lowering your natural defences.
1. Avoid processed sugar.
Step one is to remove all processed sugar from your diet.
Sugar can suppress your immune system and make you more susceptible to infectious disease.
Fruit sugar is different because fruits contain water, nutrients and fibre, all of which are valuable players in the healing game.
2. Listen to your appetite.
If you are hungry, eat. If you are not hungry, don’t eat.
Science does not definitively support the ideas that you should either feed a cold or starve a fever.
We know that in some studies, moderate calorie restriction (eating a bit less than usual) improved cell-mediated immunity (your good cells eating up the bad cells). But other studies show that periods of low food intake lower our body’s defence of specific pathogens (not eating enough made people more likely to get sick).
So I recommend that you listen to your appetite.
Eat home-cooked goodness.
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that when you are sick, it is time to make wise food decisions. Get your hands on good, homemade, nourishing food.
Ask a friend or family for help (you can pay them back later) or go pick up some pre-made meals from a grocery store that serves healthy options (Farm Boy or Whole Foods are two examples). You can also order meals from a personal chef service just to get you through.
Dairy is known to create more mucus for many people so I generally recommend that you avoid it however, if yogurt truly is the only thing you can think about holding down and you really are feeling hungry, go for it.
In our house, popular “sick foods” are applesauce and white rice.
Although the rice does not really offer any nutrients, it is easily digested and can often give you that little bit of energy you need to make it through until you are feeling a bit better and can tolerate something nutritious.
3. Keep hydrated.
You need to get fluids when you are sick.
Your runny nose, increased rate of breathing, elevated temperature, diarrhea and vomiting are all taking water out of your body. And you know how important water is right? (On average your body is made up of sixty percent water).
So keep a glass of water by your bedside at all times. And sip on it regularly.
You can also get some fluids by drinking herbal tea, which is soothing. I would avoid caffeine right now because you need to sleep.
But my absolute favourite way of getting fluids into your body when you are sick, aside from water, is to drink homemade bone broth. This can be made at home easily (here is my recipe) or purchased in the freezer section of a health food store.
Broth has nutrients to support your body, it is easily digested, it is comforting and it may just be the perfect thing to satisfy your mild hunger and give you some energy. So keep some broth in your freezer for times like this and just warm it up by the cup full when you are feeling sick.
I hate to break it to you but the likelihood that you are under the weather because you are overworked, under-slept and stressed out is pretty high.
Did you know that when you are taking excellent care of your body you are less likely to get sick?
Yes! You are around different viruses and bacteria every day but you only express symptoms from them on occasion (hopefully). And that is highly dependent on how well you are taking care of yourself in terms of food, sleep, exercise and stress.
So the message that your body is sending you is “It’s time to get some rest.”
This means real, legitimate rest. Like sleeping…for hours.
For children especially, the stimulation of video games and television may even be too much. And it certainly is going to interfere with their ability to sleep, so I recommend avoiding it altogether.
And for adults, this is probably not the time to feel bad about missing the gym. You need to let your cells use as much energy as possible to heal your body.
As a caveat, if you are “just a little bit sick” and feel up to the gym, go for it!
Your body has an amazing ability to deal with viruses on its own with little intervention from our over-thinking human brains. However, you have to be willing to let your body go through the process the best way it knows how, without getting in the way.
So here’s how to let that happen. As soon as you feel like you are coming down with something:
- Avoid processed sugar.
- Listen to your appetite and eat healthy food.
- Stay hydrated.
If you are really down and out, go to your room with a glass of water or cup of broth. Get under the covers. Go to sleep.
Look out next week for Part 2 in this series. We will be looking at Supportive Supplements that you can take when you are “treating” a cold naturally.
Want some easy meal prep ideas? Get my FREE “4 Easy Meal Prep Ideas” download that includes four of my favorite things to prep in advance so that there is always food ready…and the recipes are included. You can get that by clicking HERE.