This article has been adapted for Primal Kidz Mag, and was written by Krystal Ross, from The Vital Mama blog.
It’s that time of year again! Back to school is often times synonymous with the beginning of the cold and flu season, and with good reason: large bodies of children in one building are sure to bring a plethora of germs that are simply unavoidable. While the media is propagated with urgent calls to get the flu vaccine, the reality is that many individuals already have compromised immune systems to begin with resulting from nutrient deficient diets, a general overburdened toxic load (from chemicals and toxins present in foods, the environment, and personal care products to name a few), and bombarding your system with yet more chemicals and combined viruses in a shot may not be the healthiest method to avoiding getting sick.
The best method to prevent getting sick in the first place is to simply ensure that you are in an optimal state of health, and that your immune system is functioning at peak performance.
You can do this by a variety of natural modalities. Follow these 15 natural tips throughout the season to avoid coming down with the cold or flu, or better yet, integrate several or all of them into your lifestyle to ensure a lifetime of optimum health and immune function! If you feel are already feeling a cold coming on, make sure to get a jump on these tips immediately as they can help alleviate symptoms or mitigate them at the very least:
- Eat a whole foods based diet, such as The Paleo Diet, avoiding GMOs, processed foods, additives, and junk foods in general.
- Drink your bone broth (preferably chicken for its stellar immune boosting properties) on at least a weekly basis for cold/flu prevention. Drink at least one to two mugs daily as soon as you start to feel run down or like you might be coming down with something. Alternatively, make a batch of my immune boosting soup, it really works! If you don’t have bone broth on hand and don’t want to make it, you can order it here. It’s great to have at the ready in the freezer for these emergency situations!
- Take the herb oil of oregano for its natural antibacterial, antimircobial, and anti fungal properties. Ramp up your intake to 2 capsules 2-3 times daily when you feel you’re at risk for coming down with the cold or flu. You can also take a few drops of oregano essential oil (and apply to bottoms of feet diluted), but be careful about which brand you use; doTerra is one brand that is known for high-quality, organic essential oils.
- Incorporate On Guard essential oil into your herbal cabinet. Take 2 drops twice daily. If you can’t take this essential oil, you can opt for plain clove essential oil diluted in water as an internal remedy, as clove oil has inherent antimicrobial, anti-inflammtory, and anti-parasitic properties.
- If you don’t already take Vitamin D, make sure you do. During the cold and flu season, it is safe to bump up your vitamin D intake to 5,ooo IU daily. Increase the dose to 15-20IU a day for a few days when you are particularly vulnerable to illness. It is also a good idea to get your Vitamin D levels checked bi-yearly. “Within range” is 30-100, BUT OPTIMAL is 50-80.
- Incorporate a variety of herbs traditionally used in holistic medicine. The following herbs are particularly beneficial to the immune system and for overall health, especially during the cold and flu season: astragalus, echinacea, elderberry, and/or medicinal mushrooms like shiitake, reishi, cordyceps.
- Colloidal silver is a natural antimicrobial agent that is excellent for destroying nasty germs. When you are getting sick you can take up to 500ppm, a teaspoon every hour on the hour all day for 2-3 days. It is also beneficial for kids to take too.
- Vitamin C is the standard immune boosting supplement. While eating lots of oranges (NOT orange juice as this is all pure sugar and nutrients are typically killed off in the pasteurization process,) can be helpful in getting your daily dose of C, there is simply not enough Vitamin C present in food to help in fighting colds or flus. It is best to take at least 500 mg of Vitamin C per day, but when you are beginning to get sick you can triple the dose to 1500 mg in divided doses (500 mg at a time). You can also do a vitamin C flush if you’re feeling sickness coming on. Drink 1,000mg of vitamin C every 30 minutes until you get loose stools. You can achieve this by drinking many of the teas and elixirs explained below that are rich in vitamin C and necessary bioflavonoids.
- Skip the coffee and drink soothing teas during the day to stay warm and hydrated. Green tea, peppermint, licorice (unless high blood pressure), echinacea, ginger, lemon, chamomile, rooibos, nettle, and oat straw are all popular holistic herbal concoctions that can work wonders in boosting your immune system and flushing out any unwanted invaders.
- Don’t skimp on sleep! Adequate rest is not only necessary for proper functioning during the day, but you also strengthen your immune system by giving your body the rest it deserves. 7-9 hours is optimal for adults, school age children and teens benefit from between 8-10 hours.
- Regular, non-intense exercise such as walking or light jogging, dancing, rebounding, yoga, tai chi, Qi Gong- all moved the energy (chi) in the body, keeping it fluid and strong. Moderate exercise also releases endorphins that promote general wellbeing.
- Make sure to get your zinc on. This essential mineral is necessary for health, and aids in warding off colds and the flu as well. Oysters, ginger, grass-fed beef and pumpkin seeds are especially high in this nutrient. You can also take a zinc supplement.
- Organic, raw honey is a natural antimicrobial agent, and strengthens the immune system. It is also an age old remedy for coughs and throat irritations. You can also add ginger, peppermint or lemon or pineapple to help soothe bronchial inflammation.
- Consume Organic, cold-pressed, and unrefined coconut oil. It is another natural antibacterial, antiviral, and anti fungal that also helps to soothe and heal the digestive tract and thyroid.
- Take a good, strong probiotic! Over 80% of your immune system actually resides in your gut in the form of beneficial bacteria. Taking a probiotic every day will ensure that you are receiving healthy doses of the beneficial gut bacteria necessary to fight off unwanted invaders. Probiotics with a larger amount of CFUs mean there is more beneficial bacteria present.
References: adapted from Mary Vance
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Krystal Ross, BS, CNC. is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Reiki Master & Licensed Esthetician who combines healing modalities from Eastern and Western medicine with modern science and intuition. Krystal helps clients with food intolerances/allergies, fatigue, hormone imbalances, skin concerns, eating disorders, mood and digestive disorders.
Krystal is a gentle and compassionate practitioner, seeking to connect with the essential goodness of each person. Krystal is committed to enhancing the body’s innate healing power through whole-food nutrition, professional supplements, body work, energy healing and nurturing the inner voice. Krystal’s goal is to work with you to find the root cause of your troubles and help you heal those imbalances to restore your health. She is passionate about educating her clients and providing the tools needed for self-healing.
On a personal note, Krystal enjoys nature, yoga, hiking, writing, researching, bowling, cooking and spending time with her two-year old son, friends and family.