Goodlifer’s Guide to Beating the Flu

Goodlifer's Guide to Beating the Flu

This year, it seems, the flu has been more widespread than usual. We can’t really know why, but we can figure out ways to try and beat it. If you’re one of the lucky that have not yet come down with it, skip the flu shot and instead protect yourself by taking a few important preventative measures. If you happen to be sick right now, opt for one (or all) of these proven natural remedies.

PREVENTION

Goodlifer's Guide to Beating the Flu

Lemon Water
I start every day with a glass of lemon water — a practice some say originates in traditional Chinese medicine but exists in many different cultures (my friend from Cuba says his father started each day this way. I squeeze the juice from half a lemon and add it to cold, lukewarm or warm water, depending on what I feel like. Lemon juice contains large quantities of Vitamin C, Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium and helps restore the body’s pH-balance to be more alkaline (even though you would think lemon is more acidic). Drinking a glass a day, preferably on an empty stomach, boosts your immune system, aids digestion and helps the body get rid of toxins (which, in turn, helps with weight loss and makes yous skin look better!) It’s really yummy too!

Goodlifer's Guide to Beating the Flu

Photo by eyesore9, Creative Commons

Hydration
Drinking lots of water is very important in order to keep your body balanced and your immune system functioning at an optimum level. Poor hydration can cause toxins to build up in our bodies, leading to a number of health problems, including dry skin, acne, dry coughs, sneezing, sinus pressure, headaches and fatigue. It also weakens the body’s immune system and throws your pH off balance, which can both cause you to become more susceptible to infectious diseases like the flu. To keep your body properly hydrated, always keep a glass or bottle of water with you throughout the day. Simply drinking water with meals is not enough. The exact amount we need varies, but a good rule is to drink eight glasses per day, more if you are doing strenuous workouts.

Goodlifer's Guide to Beating the Flu

The Neti Pot
Never heard of the neti pot? This is basically how it works: you pour salt water into one nostril and let it run out the other, clearing out your nasal passages. I must admit, I was skeptical at first. The idea of putting water up your nose is unappealing to most of us, and it does take a few tries before you get it right. Once you do, though, it’s very easy. I have been a fan of the Neti Pot for years, and make a point of using it every morning, even when I travel. I started out using regular sea salt, but found that it stung my nose too much, now I have started using special neti salt instead, which you can find at any well-stocked health food store and seems to be a bit gentler. Ever since I discovered, and started using, a neti pot daily I have not gotten sick as often. Worth a try, no?

Goodlifer's Guide to Beating the Flu

Green Juice
Providing high-quality nutrients to your body not only makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight it also oxygenates the blood, which makes it harder for viruses to spread. The benefits of green juice are seemingly endless, but basically it’s the quickest and most efficient way to supply your body with all those delicious nutrients. When I have time, I make it at home. Otherwise, there are juice shops on every corner now, it seems, and most of them have some green version on the menu. You can also keep a green power, like Green Vibrance on hand for when time is really tight (the single-serve packets are great for traveling).

Goodlifer's Guide to Beating the Flu

Photo by marmotto, Creative Commons

Hand Washing
This may seem like a no-brainer, but washing your hands frequently is more important than ever during flu season. People around you may be carrying the virus, and you never know where you may pick it up. If you are in a very high-risk environment, hand sanitizers are fine, but they should be used very sparingly since they kill all the bacteria on your hands — the good ones too.

NATURAL FLU REMEDIES

Johanna’s All-Natural Cold Remedy Elixir
juice from 1/2-1 lemon
a few thin slices fresh ginger
a few thin slices fresh turmeric
5-10 drops Propolis
Mix all the ingredients with warm water, stir with a spoon as sip slowly.

Goodlifer's Guide to Beating the Flu

Lemon juice contains tons of Vitamin C, which prevents colds and flus and are better absorbed by the body when they come from a natural source, rather than pills. Lemon juice also contains other good stuff like bioflavonoids (one of our most important antioxidants), niacin and thiamin, and has strong antibacterial properties that helps battle sore throats (you can gargle it too, if you want).

Fresh ginger has long been used to cure colds and influenza. It contains two natural forms of antibiotics, has anti-inflammatory properties, helps with congestion and sore throat and combats fever and chills.

Goodlifer's Guide to Beating the Flu

Turmeric (fresh is best, but if you can’t find it dried will work too) has been hailed as a new superfood by many health & wellness pioneers. According to an overview published in Advanced Experimental Medical Biology turmeric “has been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer activities and thus has a potential against various malignant diseases, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic illnesses.”

Propolis, which is basically the glue that bees use to keep their hives together, contains a mix of resins from the buds of trees, pollen and seeds that bees have chewed together using their saliva (sounds gross but it’s not worse than honey, right?). It contains more than 80 natural compounds, such as Vitamins A, B and E, all known minerals, bioflavonoids and almost all amino acids. Propolis protects the beehive from bacteria, viruses and diseases and has in many studies been shown to have the same effects on humans. Like honey, it also has a soothing and refreshing effect on our airways, which makes Propolis a natural alternative to cough drops. You can either put anywhere from a couple to 40 drops of it into a glass of water or put it straight into your throat, which gives much faster results (but tastes really bad).

Rowena’s Garlic Broth for Colds
1 bulb garlic
4 cups broth
olive oil
Peel the garlic cloves and fry them in olive oil for about 30 seconds (any longer and you’ll lose the phytonutrients benefits). Add 4 cups of broth and gently simmer for 7 minutes.

Goodlifer's Guide to Beating the Flu

Photo by janerc, Creative Commons

Eating raw garlic by itself can be be rough — especially when you’re sick — which is why this broth is a good option. Sip it slowly throughout the day and you’ll start feeling better in no time. This garlic broth gives you all the potent antibiotic, antibacterial, antiviral effects of fresh garlic, plus you’re sipping warm liquids which is very soothing and beneficial. Drinking warm liquids like herbal tea or broth helps speed up the healing process by thinning the mucus in your throat, making it easier to expel. Thanks to Rowena Ritchie for the recipe.

The Saltwater Gargle
For this one, you need nothing but good-quality sea salt and some warm water. Mix the two and gargle away.

Not only does the saltwater gargle appear to ease cold symptoms, The New York Times reports, but it also keeps you healthier during cold and flu season. “In a randomized study published in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2005, researchers recruited almost 400 healthy volunteers and followed them for 60 days during cold and flu season. Some of the subjects were told to gargle three times a day. At the end of the study period, the group that regularly gargled had a nearly 40 percent decrease in upper respiratory tract infections compared with the control group, and when they did get sick, ‘gargling tended to attenuate bronchial symptoms,’ the researchers wrote.”

Herbal Power
There are many different natural herbs out there that have proven to be good allies in the battle against the flu. As always, take them in the most natural form you can find and consult a physician if you are taking any other medication.

Goodlifer's Guide to Beating the Flu

Ginseng is one of the most popular herbal remedies in the world and has long been used to treat a number of illnesses. WebMD reports that “some studies have found that ginseng, particularly Asian ginseng, may help boost the immune system” which prevents you from getting sick in the first place or can help you recover faster.

Goodlifer's Guide to Beating the Flu

Elderberry is not only delicious, it may actually help you fight the flu. Mother Earth News reports that “an extract of the black elderberries produces beneficial immune actions and helps fight influenza and other respiratory viruses. Two small studies have demonstrated rapid recovery from influenza with a proprietary elderberry extract called Sambucol, which is available in many natural food stores.”

Goodlifer's Guide to Beating the Flu

Licorice Root has a long history of medicinal use in both the East and West, and is the most widely used herb in Chinese medicine today. It is used as a traditional remedy to treat stomach ulcers, chronic fatigue, depression, bronchitis, sore throat, and infections caused by viruses, like the flu. Licorice also enhances the immune system by providing powerful antioxidants, boosting levels of interferon — an important chemical that helps fight off attacking viruses— and glycyrrhizinic acid, which has been shown to stop the growth of many bacteria and of viruses like influenza.

Goodlifer's Guide to Beating the Flu

Andrographis is a plant that is native to India, Sri Lanka, and other South Asian countries. The leaf and underground stem are used to make the a herbal medicine that is frequently used for preventing and treating the common colds and the flu. There have been (yet unproven) claims that andrographis played an important tole in stopping the 1919 flu epidemic in India.

Whatever natural remedies work for you, stay healthy out there.

top photo by spcbrass, Creative Commons

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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