Surviving Cold and Flu Season – a special guide for busy families

Favorite tips for surviving cold and flu season

Back to school means the cold and flu season is upon us.  Getting sick can really be a major setback to someone with a full calendar and a busy family.  The introduction of a pathogen into your system sends you into a full-scale immune response, and that can irritate existing inflammation, make you feel miserable, or possibly put you in bed for a few days.  What do you do?

If you're an immune overachiever (you have an autoimmune disease), then check out my recommendations here instead. This advice might make the cold or flu worse for you!

What do you do then?  Certainly no one can afford to be set back for several days with a cold or flu.

My first advice is to be vigilant about washing your hands.  Actually washing them with soap and warm water for 20 seconds – not the wave your hands under some water thing.  People everywhere have cold and flu viruses.  They touch doorknobs, handrails, car doors, items on store shelves, plates and silverware at restaurants, money, and electronics.  Chances are, if you touch something in public, someone with a cold or flu also touched it.  Save yourself from the most common means of transmission and wash your hands often – always before eating!  And, be careful about touching your face with dirty hands. If you can't always wash your hands, Natural Hand sanitizer is a great solution to the kids backpacks, your purse, or briefcase.

Keep active! Movement and exercise boost your immunity, support the lymphatic system in clearing out pathogenic invaders, and give you energy. People who exercise regularly get more sleep. More sleep means you have greater resilience when those cold and flu germs come your way. 

Someone in your house catch a bug? Be vigilant about cleaning common surfaces like doorknobs, toilet handles, faucet handles, countertops, and tables. Use a natural cleaner with Thymol (a thyme derivative) to kill bacteria. Wash sponges and cloths daily to avoid spreading germs. 

Make sure your nutrient stores are topped off.  Fighting off a virus will use up the body’s stock of essential nutrients quickly – especially zinc, selenium, vitamin C, and iron.  The best way to get these vital nutrients is through food.  Zinc is probably the toughest, as the best bioavailable sources of zinc are oysters, which don’t make everyone’s favorite food list.  But, beef, lamb, and pumpkin seeds also have zinc.  (Need a good zinc supplement? Try this one) Selenium is found in Brazil nuts, and I suggest you have four or five of them daily.  Vitamin C is found in citrus fruit and even in the rind, so you can add the rind to your herbal infusion for a boost.  Iron is found in high quality protein and leafy greens.  My primary advice holds just as true in this season as in any other season – eat foods that ARE ingredients, not foods that HAVE ingredients.

It’s also critical to make sure you are listening to the messages from your body and taking the time to get the rest you need.  An over-tired body and a super-stressed mind is far more susceptible to illness than a rested one.  Using your brain makes you more tired than using your body, so consider how much you're asking of yourself as cold and flu season comes up. You tend to sleep more in the darker months anyway, so let yourself have a few extra minutes where you can.

If you DO find yourself bitten by the flu bug, then I suggest you take some elderberry syrup.  My recipe is a good start. You can get my Elderberry Kits in the webstore to have on hand when you need it. Elderberries are popular and hard to find as winter gets deeper, so stock up now. Elderberry is a great antiviral, antimicrobial, and antioxidant.  Elderberry has been shown in some research and some other research to increase the inflammatory cytokines (IL-1 beta, TNF-alpha, IL-6, and IL-8), which could be problematic for some overachievers.  That’s why I recommend it only as an intervention once you have a virus.  Your immune system is already activated to deal with the pathogen, and the antiviral activity in elderberry may be beneficial for clearing it faster.

As with anything, I always recommend that you give it a try and see what it does for you.  Start low, maybe ½ to 1 tsp at a time, and work up to a tablespoon three to four times a day.  Note any symptoms in your tracking log and enjoy the experiment.  And well, I’m not a doctor, so know that this information is here for your education and information and you should always talk over any herbs you want to take with your physician.

I also suggest that you have some good chicken broth – not the kind from a can, but some good broth that comes from cooking chicken bones (and some meat, too) in water for several hours.  Try my broth booster bags for extra nutrients and immune support. You can cook it ahead and freeze it for just such a situation.  Try for 8 oz a day or more.

Getting sick is never any fun, and getting set back only makes you more frazzled. It requires a little forethought, but you can keep yourself well this season.

Feel like you need some more guidance? Connect with me and we’ll talk about your specific situation.