When faced with potential exposure to the flu, it’s a good idea to begin strengthening your immune system so that it’s healthy and robust during the winter months. This will reduce the virus’s ability to take root in your body. Eating nutrient dense foods, getting meaningful rest, and keeping your hands clean this time of year will help immensely as well.
As mentioned above, the main symptoms of the flu include:
• Aches and pains in the muscles and joints
• Dry throat and cough
• Fatigue and weakness
• Nausea and vomiting (in some cases)
• Sneezing and runny nose
• A sore throat
• Swollen glands in the neck and throat
The root causes of the flu include:
• Poor diet
• Run down immunity due to another illness
If you experience any of the above, you are more susceptible to catching the flu so keep these in mind during the winter months and take care of yourself!
1. Eating Light
You will often a very low appetite for the first 2-4 days after catching the flu. During this time, your body is focusing on healing and not on digesting. Listen to your body and allow it to fast as feels comfortable. When you do feel like eating, keep it light and easy on your digestive system like chicken soup, veggie soup, congee, etc. with plenty of fresh ginger, onion, and garlic if you’re able.
Eating citrus is also a great way to get in some natural Vitamin C which will stimulate white blood cell production and offer good hydration.
Once the acute stage has passed, you may move onto adding steamed veggies and whole grains to your diet. These are still light enough for your body to focus on healing but will offer a bit more sustenance.
2. Drink Plenty of Fluids
Especially in the first few days, your body will need the extra fluids to help flush your body. I recommend drinking spring water, green tea, herbal teas, broth, and fresh juice (avoid buying sugar laden processed juices).
Staying hydrated will help keep your respiratory tract from drying out and will also assist your body in detoxing during healing.
3. Take Flu Fighting Herbs
- Echinacea – Echinacea stimulates the body to produce and strengthen white blood cells to help fight off the flu. This is what makes it a potent antiviral, especially in combination with goldenseal when there is mucus present. If you don’t have mucus, just use Echinacea. For adults, take 2-4ml of Echinacea tincture a day.
- Elderberry – One of the best herbs for flu is the noble elderberry. This tiny and unassuming berry is effective against 8 strains of the flu virus and has the ability to cut the duration of the flu by half. This is because elderberry prevents the flu virus from replicating allowing you to get well in as little as 2-3 days instead of six. If you currently have the flu, take 4TB of elderberry syrup daily for adults and 1TB daily for children (this is the children’s version). You can use elderberry as a tasty preventative as well by taking 1TB of elderberry syrup a day for adults and 1 tsp for children. Hands down, this is an excellent natural remedy for the flu virus and I use it as a flu preventative every year.
- Fresh Ginger – Making a strong tea with fresh ginger is an excellent natural remedy for reducing chills, sore throat, and body aches. I have an amazing recipe that makes a really potent ginger tea that’s comforting and spicy. Whenever my husband is sick, he always asks for this tea. Ginger is warming in nature and has anti-inflammatory properties that will help ease aches and pains. If you have a fever, it will help you sweat it out. If you have nausea or other tummy troubles, ginger will soothe the stomach and intestinal tract. This is why drinking Ginger Ale is a well-known remedy for flu! Drink the fresh hot tea as often as you like during bouts of flu. If you don’t care for ginger, try chamomile tea instead!
- Peppermint Tea – When you feel queasy or have general digestive upset during the flu, peppermint tea can help calm cramping and nausea. It’s also a comforting tea to drink when you have a fever or a sore throat. You can gargle peppermint tea the ease a sore throat and loosen germs!
4. Essential Oils – Using these powerful plant essences will help alleviate flu symptoms and encourage faster healing.
A few essential oils to use for flu include:
• Eucalyptus Radiata – opens the lungs and sinuses and cuts through mucus. Also helps with body aches.
• Lavender – instills relaxation and improves rest and sleep.
• Peppermint – soothes fever and stomach upset.
• Tea Tree – kills germs when diffused or used to in homemade cleansers to wipe surfaces.
Taking a few supplements can be beneficial when supporting your body during the flu. Here are a few of my top picks!
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C has the ability to stimulate the production of white blood cells which is always a good thing while you’re sick! I recommend taking 1,000-2,000mg of Vitamin C 3-4 times a day for adults. If diarrhea occurs, lower the dose.
- Vitamin D – Research has confirmed that catching a cold or the flu is often a direct result of Vitamin D deficiency. Having good levels of Vitamin D significantly strengthens your immune system against colds, influenza, and other respiratory infections. It is also an excellent antimicrobial agent. Of course, the best source of Vitamin D is from the sun, but when that isn’t doable, I recommend taking 1,000-2,000 IU daily during flu season. You can up the amount to 5,000 IU during the flu to optimize immunity for adults.
- Zinc – Having zinc lozenges while sick can help reduce the severity of symptoms and cut the duration of colds and flu.
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