You got your flu shot, washed your hands like crazy and tried to get enough sleep, but you still got sick. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you are far from alone. An estimated 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population will come down with the flu this year, with thousands requiring hospitalization.
Those who are lucky enough to avoid the flu may not be able to escape the common cold. The CDC said most people will recover from a cold within about 7-10 days, but it’s still the main reason kids stay home from school and adults call out from work.
Feel better faster with my natural food remedies.
Chicken Soup for What Ails You
From Eastern European matzah ball soup to Portugese Caldo Verde, every culture has some version of chicken soup. And for good reason. Warm chicken broth helps break up mucous and reduces inflammation in the respiratory tract. Mexico’s answer to this cold weather staple is tortilla chicken soup. It includes jalapeno peppers, which help open the sinuses, antioxidant-rich cilantro, and vitamin C-rich lime juice. You can try my easy version here.
Probiotics have been a big buzzword the last couple of years. A healthy balance of good bacteria in the body improves digestion and may help regulate weight and ward off a range of health issues.
When I’m feeling run down, or when I’m trying to bounce back after a cold, I make this Gut Health Grain Bowl. You can use brown rice, quinoa or another whole grain as the base. Then top it with kimchi, Brussels sprouts, pistachios, mushrooms and a fried egg.
Kimchi is fermented cabbage with onion, ginger and garlic and it’s a great source of probiotics, beneficial bacteria, which help boost gut health. A healthy gut is your first line of defense against getting sick. The pistachios provide prebiotic fiber for those healthy bugs to thrive on. The mushrooms offer vitamin D, which is vital for a healthy immune system. I like adding a fried egg on top for a boost of protein, plus several other essential nutrients, but if you’re not feeling up to it, you can always leave it off.
With or Without a Splash of Whiskey
When all else fails and you’re dealing with a nasty cold or the flu, a soothing hot toddy can help set you right. My recipe contains Manuka honey, which is higher in antibacterial compounds than regular honey. I brew a cup of puerh tea, which is fermented and contains higher levels of antioxidants than green tea. I also add fresh lemon juice and a splash of whiskey, which can temporarily numb a sore throat.
What else can I do to not get sick?
This antioxidant vitamin may not help prevent you from getting sick, but studies show that it may help shorten the length of your cold by about one day. That may not seem like a lot, but most of us want to get back to our normal activities after a few days of resting on the couch.
Citrus fruit is rich in vitamin C and also helps keep you hydrated. If you don’t feel up to peeling and eating an orange or grapefruit, opt for 100% orange juice.
Bone broth options have proliferated in the last few years and you can find it pretty much anywhere. When you don’t have the energy to make chicken soup, it’s simple to heat up a bowl or mug of bone broth. It provides the same benefits as chicken broth, while also giving you a protein boost (about 9 grams per cup), which is great when you’re sick and don’t have much of an appetite.
Hydrating with warm fluids is extremely beneficial when you’re ill. It’s soothing and hydrating. Any herbal tea that doesn’t contain caffeine will do. I particularly like peppermint, rooibos (red tea) and licorice tea.
Here’s to a healthy winter, but at least you have some tools in your pocket when the sniffles inevitably hit.
Frances is a best-selling author, nutrition and wellness expert and a sought after spokesperson. She also provides private nutrition counseling through her HealthyHousecall program.