There are things you can do naturally to make getting sick less likely. But, if you do happen to get sick, there are some ways you can help support your body to fight it off.
Good hand hygiene and overall healthy habits can reduce your risk of getting sick in the first place. And good nutrition can help your immune system fight off a cold quicker. Imagine your germ-fighting immune cells all hungry and tired versus them being nourished and full of energy.
Let’s dive right in with some tips to reduce your risk of getting sick in the first place. And we’ll follow the tips with some of my strategies to recover from that cold you may still get from time to time.
Natural tips to reduce your risk of sickness
Incorporate these ideas into your daily life to reduce your risk of getting sick:
1 – Wash your hands. A lot. Your hands can trap and transport all kinds of microbes that cause sickness. And I’m not only talking about colds here, but lots of different germs.
NOTE: Antibacterial soap is not recommended! Not only is it no more effective than regular soap and water, but it can contribute to antibiotic resistance.
2 – Get enough nutrients. Every cell in your body, including your immune cells, need enough of all the essential nutrients. You already know that I’m sure, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this fact. The more nutrition you have, the better and stronger you will be, especially with vitamins A, C, and E. Vitamin A-rich foods include carrots, sweet potatoes and organ meats. Vitamin C-rich foods include bell peppers and citrus. Vitamin E-rich foods include nuts, seeds and leafy greens.
3 – Probiotic foods. Helping our health-promoting gut microbes with more of their probiotic friends is in order here to help keep the immune system strong. Have 1-2 servings per day of fermented foods and drinks like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kefir and kombucha.
4 – Prebiotic foods. Feeding those friendly gut microbes their favorite foods can help them to grow and flourish. They love fibrous foods such as onions, asparagus, berries, bananas, sweet potatoes, whole grains and seeds. Aim for 2-3 servings per day.
5 – Get enough sleep. Did you know that our immune system cycles with our circadian system? When we sleep our immune cells produce antibodies to fight infections. Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every single night, even when you’re feeling great.
Natural tips to recover from a cold/sickness
When you do get an infection, not only do you need more nutrients to fight it off, but your body also has a harder time absorbing and using the nutrients you take in. Sometimes this is because of reduced hunger, sometimes it’s due to gastrointestinal reasons. Either way, nourishing your body is even more important. When you do get sick, make sure you are implementing tips 1-5 as well as tips 6 and 7 listed below that are crucial for getting over a common cold.
6 – Drink lots of fluids. Being sick can be dehydrating. Fluids like water, chicken soup and green tea are warm, hydrating comfort drinks. Chicken soup is a source of electrolytes, especially if homemade from a real chicken with lots of vegetables. Green tea has been shown to boost some of our immune cells, and this can help to better fight off the invading germ(s).
7 – Rest and recover. When your body is fighting an infection, it’s busy working hard for your health. Give it a break, and relax while you’re feeling under the weather.
To sum up: there are lots of things we can do to stay healthy and reduce infections naturally. Washing your hands is a proven way to reduce your risk. And staying healthy in all other ways helps a lot. Getting enough nutrition, eating probiotic and prebiotic foods and getting enough sleep are key year round.
If you do get sick, keep up all of your good habits above, and make sure to add some warm, healthy fluids, and get some extra rest.
What do you do when you get sick? Please let us know your tips and strategies by commenting in the box below. We’d love to hear from you.