We are still very much in cold and flu season, and even if you haven’t become stricken with illness just yet, the risk is still there. Maybe while you’re reading this, you already struggle with a stuffy nose, nausea, or sore throat. In that case, you’re in luck.
This is because we share 16 natural and effective ways to battle through a cold and flu to help you shorten the duration of your illness and get you back to feeling like yourself once again. If practiced regularly, these tips can also be beneficial in preventing a cold or flu to ensure you have an illness-free winter.
16 tips for fighting off a cold or flu
Eat yogurt for breakfast: Yogurt isn’t just good to aid in digestive woes. The same probiotics that keep things moving along in your gut also work to support a healthy immune system. One study found that individuals who consumed probiotic-rich foods, like yogurt, were 12 percent less likely to catch a cold.
Open a window: This may be a bit silly because it’s winter and that means it’s cold out, but being cooped up in a stuffy room can breed illness. Allowing fresh air in to circulate can keep viral particles moving, meaning they won’t stay around you to get you sick.
Eat mushrooms: You may not believe it but mushrooms can work wonders on boosting your immune system. One study found that people who consumed shiitake mushrooms had higher levels of T cells (cells that fight illness) and reduced inflammation. (Health secret helps Ikarians live healthy in their 80s and 90s).
Avoid touching your lips: Yes, your lips may be dry but you should avoid touching them if you don’t want to get sick. Germs can very easily enter the body when you touch your mouth, and really you should avoid touching your face as a whole – eyes included – as your face offers many passageways for germs.
Work on getting proper sleep: Poor sleep can weaken your immune system. In fact, individuals who slept for less than seven hours were more likely to catch a cold than those who slept for eight hours. (Harvard study helps seniors get a good night’s sleep.)
Flush out your nose: Rinsing out your nose with a saline solution and a neti pot each night when you begin feeling symptomatic can help remove viral particles that can latch on and make you ill.
Increase your fluid intake: Nothing is worse than being clogged up with thick mucus, so upping up your fluid intake ensures that mucus becomes thinner and easier to remove.
Use a humidifier: Dry indoor air can worsen sore throats and coughs, but a humidifier adds moisture into the air, lessening these symptoms. Viruses can live better in drier conditions, so keeping the air moist can keep these viruses at bay.
Breathe in some essential oils: Clearing up those clogged passageways can be as easy as inhaling some steamed essential oils like eucalyptus oil.
Gargle with warm salt water: Salt is known to kill pathogens along with loosening up mucus and easing inflammation. Although gargling warm salt water can offer relief to an already sore throat, it can also be useful in preventing it, too.
Have some chicken soup: Your favorite chicken soup your mother made you when you were sick actually was making you better after all. Not only can the salty broth ease a sore throat but the steam works to open up clogged nasal passages. Furthermore, chicken soup has been found to have properties to move cells that fight infection to where they need to be in the body. (Powerful antioxidant helps man live well beyond his years.)
Have some honey: Honey is known to be a natural antibiotic and antimicrobial. For this reason, it’s great for easing sore throats, especially because of its thick consistency coating the throat.
Sit up: Although all you may want to do is lay down when you’re sick, it’s actually wiser to stay propped up to prevent the buildup of mucus in the sinus cavities. Try to sit and sleep at a 45-degree angle to reduce blood flow to the head which can promote inflammation and sinus congestion.
Amp up your hygiene: To prevent illness, it’s important that you frequently wash your hands. And if you are sick, you should wash your hands even more often to prevent the spread of germs.
Avoid sharing: Although dipping into some ranch with a crispy chip is delicious, sharing that ranch can either make you sick or make others sick – even if you aren’t “double-dipping.” Avoid sharing food and other items that can spread germs, especially in the winter months, in order to prevent illness.
Don’t start a diet: A study on mice found that those mice that were on a low-calorie diet took longer to recover from the flu and experienced worsened symptoms, compared to mice that ate more. So if you do want to start a diet you may want to wait until the flu season is over.
These tips can help you prevent the cold and flu from striking you, as well as ease symptoms and have you bouncing back from your sick days in a shorter time period.
Related: Eat these foods for a strong immune system