Welcome to cold and flu season. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases each year people in the United States will get 1 billion colds. But feeling sick isn’t the only thing that happens. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 22 million school days will be lost each year due to colds. And as most parents know, when kids miss school, parents miss work.
Will you be one of the 1 billion colds? Will your children miss school this year too, forcing you to miss work?
If you follow these seven simple steps you can manage to beat a cold and flu all year long, year after year. You may even prevent chronic lifestyle diseases from taking hold too.
7 Steps to Beat a Cold or Flu
Facts on Colds
It’s estimated that there are 200 viruses out there that can cause colds. And despite what many people think (and your grandma may have told you), there’s no evidence that cold weather, large tonsils or other such old wives tales can make you get a cold. Evidence does suggest that stress and having allergies can increase your chances of getting a cold.
Colds are caused by viruses such as the rhinovirus, the coronavirus, and more. These germs take up residence in the lining of the nose and grow, eventually attempting to infect the body. If your body is weak or unable to resist the germs you get sick. Colds generally last from about two days to two weeks.
We all know what a cold feels like; runny nose, stuffy head, low grade fever, sore throat, cough, headache. If you have these symptoms it’s most likely that you have a cold. Although treatment of colds is a topic of controversy, there are preventative steps you can take to not get a cold in the first place!
7 Real Life Steps to Stay Cold & Flu Free All Year Long
Step 1: Eat Real Food
Now if you’ve been a regular reader on my site here you’ll know what I mean by ‘real’ food. But for those of you who don’t let me explain. Real food is the food that is most natural, found in nature with the least amount of processing involved before it reaches your table.
This is the food that is provided by Our Maker to keep us healthy and alive without debilitating diseases. Foods like apples, carrots, raw nuts, and seeds. Foods that haven’t been loaded with hormones, pesticides, and other unnatural chemicals. These are the foods you can grow (or raise) in your own backyard in an organic garden or by raising your own chickens for example.
The other foods that many Americans consume on a daily basis are what I like to call ‘fake’ foods. These are the foods you’ll find on shelf after shelf, aisle after aisle at the grocery store. Foods that have been highly processed, modified, and transformed from their original state that they hardly resemble the original food at all.
Think Doritos, soda, fruit snacks, microwave meals, etc.
Eating a variety of real foods provide your body with all the nutrients it needs to function and stay healthy. This should be your first food choice on a daily basis. Check out my Healing Foods Diet and the Real Food Diet Cookbook for guidance on eating real foods instead of fake foods.
Step 2: Exercise
Although when you think of preventing a cold you don’t necessarily think ‘I’d better exercise if I don’t want to get sick,’ this is one of the best ways to improve your overall health and stay healthy during cold and flu season.
According to researcher Michael Flynn who studies the impact of exercise on the immune system at Purdue University, thirty minutes of exercise, three or four times a week, is the best way to boost your immune system. Any more will actually begin to have the reverse effect.
Flynn explained that one study found running ten miles a week boosted the immune system but up that to twenty miles a week and you increase the risk for infections.
This is why I recommend burst training as opposed to long distance cardiovascular exercise.
Step 3: Get Plenty of Sleep
Now this old wives tale still holds true today. When you’re sick you need to get plenty of rest, but you can’t really ‘catch up’ on sleep or makeup for weeks or months of too little sleep.
Getting enough sleep on a regular basis is key to maintaining good health. Studies show that lack of sleep is associated with health problems and the inability to lose weight. According to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch one adverse effect of not getting enough sleep is a compromised immune system.
Step 4: Enjoy Life!
There’s nothing like stress to bring on all sorts of physical ailments including colds and flu’s. According to Laurel Mellin, associate professor at the University of California in San Francisco, 80% of health problems are stress induced.
Mellin has developed a new approach for dealing with stress. It involves using the tools already in place in your brain to move through stress and quickly get to feeling peaceful and balanced.
One of the best ways to beat stress is to balance your life with fun. Remember the saying ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’? Well no play will make Jack a miserable and dull boy. Take time to enjoy life and build joy everyday. Whether it’s taking time to listen to your favorite music, or going to the movies or theater, or playing sports with your family or friends, it’s vital to include fun in your day – especially when it’s the last thing you feel like doing.
Step 5: Get Plenty of Vitamin D
More and more is being revealed lately about the vast health benefits of vitamin D. Previously known to impact bone health, vitamin D deficiency is now implicated in many health issues.
According to long time vitamin D researcher, Dr. Michael Holick, vitamin D is best obtained through safe sun exposure. That’s right, he advises you to get sun – but safely. In his book entitled The Vitamin D Solution, Holick says that a lack of vitamin D (that many Westerners are unknowingly suffering from) can wreak havoc on the body, including the immune system.
To beat a cold or flu make sure you get plenty of safe sun exposure on a regular basis. If you live somewhere that only gets sun seasonally it’s a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement until your levels are adequate enough to take you through these sunless seasons.
Step 6: Take a Whole Food Multivitamin
Taking a multi-vitamin is a great step towards protecting your health. But not all multi-vitamins are good for you. It’s vital that you choose a whole food multi-vitamin not a synthetic one. Whole food multi-vitamins are as close to the real source of the vitamins and minerals that you can get. Your body will be better able to recognize it, digest it, and absorb the nutrients in it. Be sure the multi-vitamin you choose has the ISO certification on it. This ensures that you are getting a high-quality vitamin.
Step 7: Avoid Sugar
Sugar is one of the worst things to consume, especially if you’re trying to stay healthy – and who isn’t? Sugars weaken the immune system and help bacteria to grow. Avoiding sugars is key to staying healthy, particularly when you’re under stress or in the middle of cold and flu season.
There are great, all natural sweeteners on the market so you don’t have to go without. Try stevia or raw honey in moderation. (And avoid artificial sweeteners–those are fake foods!) Be sure to check labels of the foods you’re eating and avoid sugars here too.
No one wants to come down with a cold or the flu anytime. When you take the above seven steps to stay healthy you’ll not only beat colds and flu’s, you’ll be protecting your body from other more serious chronic diseases that could really compromise your health down the road.
San Francisco Chronicle (2010)