Healthy Hacks to Fight The Flu + Boost Your Immune System
Flu season is here in full-force, and despite feeling that all-too familiar tickle in my throat once or twice, I’ve been able to beat the virus before it’s gone full blown by upping the ante on my wellness routine.
But instead of reaching for the Nyquil or Theraflu, I’ve been determined to choose remedies that not only cure the common cold but also promote optimal health and wellbeing, instead of detract from it (cough cough NSAIDS that can cause gastrointestinal damage, ulcers and internal bleeding among many other side effects).
In doing so I not only quickly and effectively prevented coming down with the flu, but also enhanced my immune system, lowered inflammation, strengthened my digestion, purified my skin and even had some fun in the process.
Here are a few of my personal tried and true hacks to help support your body — not only in fighting off this year’s formidable virus — but in promoting a greater life force, vitality and overall wellbeing.
+ ESSENTIAL OILS —
+ Thieve’s Oil —
Where my fellow history nerds at? Thieve’s Oil derived it’s name (and legend) in the 15th century when four thieves robbed hundreds of infectious dead bodies during the bubonic plague and miraculously never contracted the disease.
Turns out they were using an herbal essential oil blend (now appropriately dubbed Thieve’s Oil) that has a 99.96% success rate at killing airborne bacteria. This oil is antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial and anti-infections and is known for stimulating the immune system while protecting agains the flu, colds, sore throats and more.
+ How to Use — You can find the oil in many pharmacies and health food stores, but I especially love Doterra’s Onguard Protective Blend, which is certified pure therapeutic grade oil and safe to consume. Try putting a drop under your tongue, in your diffuser, or mixing one drop with warm water, lemon, cayenne and apple cider vinegar for a potent immunity-boosting cocktail.
+ Oregano Oil —
Another potent antiviral, antifungal, and antioxidant- rich blend that contains carvacrol and thymol, both of which inhibit bacterial reproduction.
+ How to Use — Try swallowing 1 drop of certified pure therapeutic grade oil mixed with a tablespoon of coconut oil or 8 oz of warm water. Oregano oil is seriously powerful and can also impact your gut bacteria, so don’t take for longer than a week and discuss use with your doc.
+ Eucalyptus Oil —
This refreshing blend helps to relieve congestion, decrease coughing/bronchitis and kill infectious bacteria in your respiratory tract.
+ How to Use — I love adding a couple drops to my detox bath (see below) or rubbing a drop on my chest and under my nose.
+ SUPPLEMENTS —
I mean, this one is pretty much a no-brainer, however I think you’ll be surprised by this somewhat non-traditional yet highly effective list.
Glutathione is one of the body’s most powerful antioxidants — it boosts cellular energy and strengthens your immune system to help your body fight off infections — however most of us are depleted of our supply due to exposure to chronic stress and toxins.
+Vitamin C —
Although there is some debate to whether or not vitamin C can prevent you from getting sick, it’s highly effective at helping you get rid of your cold quickly.
+ How to Use — Start with 1000mg per day or look for it in whole food forms like citrus, broccoli, tomato, kale and brussels sprouts. It’s also more effective if you take in conjunction with Glutathione.
+Vitamin D3 —
Vitamin D has a TON of benefits, especially in regards to the immune system as it supports your cytotoxic T-cells, otherwise known as the “killer cells” that search for and destroy invaders (aka pathogens and disease).
+ How to Use — During winter, start with taking 2,000 IU of D3. I also recommend consulting with your doctor as it is possible to overdo it on Vitamin D (although most of us are deficient).
+Zinc + Copper —
When zinc and copper are combined they form an antioxidant powerhouse that boosts your immune system, combats colds and alleviates symptoms.
+ How to Use — Take as soon as you feel the slightest hint you might be coming down with something, as it’s most effective if taken within the first 24 hours. Also note that most zinc lozenges don’t contain copper, making it less effective. I like this brand.
+HEALING TONICS —
Keeping hydrated is a non-negotiable when it comes to optimal health and these are some of my fave double-duty tonics that serve not only to hydrate but to innately heal.
+ Traditional Medicinals Gypsy Cold Care Tea —
This tea is one of my fave to sip on at the slightest hint of a sniffle. It’s made with immunity-boosting herbs like elder flower, rose hip, cinnamon bark and yarrow flower and tastes cozy and slightly sweet.
+ How to Use — Drink as a tea mixed with warm water up to several times per day.
+ Immunity Tonic —
This cocktail is a potent mix of apple cider vinegar (boosts gut health), lemon (vitamin c powerhouse), ginger (antiseptic and anti-inflammatory), cayenne (promotes detoxification) and raw manuka honey (anti-microbial).
+ How to Use — Mix together 8 oz of warm water with 1 tbsp acv, 1/2 lemon, 1 tsp raw ginger, 1/8 tsp cayenne and 1/2 tsp raw honey together and drink. You could also boil water and let it simmer longer to make a tea. Drink first thing upon waking and before you go to bed!
+ Elderberry Syrup —
Elderberries have a long history as a folk cure for a variety of ailments. They’re a rich source of vitamins A and C, which are crucial in helping the body maintain optimal health. Plus, the bioflavonoids in elderberry syrup boost the body’s immune system by increasing antioxidant levels and viruses that damage cell walls.
+ How to Use — A daily dose can assist you in preventing both acute and chronic disease. Try taking a tablespoon straight up.
+ Golden Glowing Latte —
Super star ingredient turmeric contains an active compound, curcumin, that keeps your inflammation in check. It regulates your immune system and has antimicrobial properties (i.e. the potential to take the edge off of your symptoms and shorten the duration of a cold).
+ How to Use — Follow this recipe to make a delicious and warming latte. Don’t forget the black pepper and coconut oil which increase the bioavailability of curcumin.
+ DETOX BATH —
This is one of my fave things to do when I’m under the weather. Not only is it super relaxing, but the warm water and epsom salts relax stiff muscles and promote restorative sleep, while the moist air and eucalyptus oil opens up congested sinuses and calms coughing.
+ How to Use — Pour two cups of epsom salt and a couple drops of DoTERRA (or other certified pure therapeutic grade) Eucalyptus essential oil into the bath with warm running water. Make it fun by lighting some candles or playing some soothing music.
+ SUPA STRENGTH SOUP —
Soup is such an easy and comforting way to sneak in immunity-boosting ingredients when you’re sick. Try elevating your classic chicken noodle with the addition of bone broth (helps thin and eliminate mucous that can collect in the bronchial passageways), ginger (antiseptic and anti-inflammatory), turmeric (antimicrobial) and garlic (antiparasitic and antifungal).
+ How to Use — You can easily add in those ingredients to your preferred soup of choice, or try my butternut squash curry which already includes all of these immunity boosting ingredients (and opens up those sinuses with a hint of spice).
+ INFRARED SAUNA —
Far infrared sauna gently heats your body’s core temperature so you get warm from the inside out, which eliminates a substantial amount of toxins (20% vs. a standard 5% when you eliminate via workouts or traditional sauna). Since viruses cannot tolerate heat, they are killed, which helps to gets rid of a cold quickly.
+ How to Use — Try looking up spas or fitness centers in the area that offer infrared heat therapy. If you’re a Seattle local, I recommend checking out City Sweats. We just launched a fun little four week coaching + sweat package together, so if you’re interested email me — firstname.lastname@example.org — to get started!
+ REST —
Last but not least, if you don’t give yourself time to rest, you’re only going to prolong your symptoms and potentially worsen your illness. I know this one can be a toughie when leading such a busy life, but our bodies are so intuitive — so when you get sick I encourage you to think of this as an important message from your body — and it’s telling you to slow down and take care of yourself.
+ How to Use — Try a detox bath, light some candles or diffuse some essential oils, cozy up with a good book, netflix and chill or simply take a nap. Lay off the workouts or social events and give your body a chance to heal — it deserves it.