Fall was a week away. I was working long hours. My sleep routine was off. And BAM! I got a cold.
I don't get sick very often, but when I do, I typically recover quickly. I rest up a bit, chill-out for a day, and feel back in tip-top shape within 36 hours.
But this time I didn't have time to be sick. I was working the fair and just couldn't stay at home and rest for a day. (I mean, technically I could have, but I wasn't willing to.)
Instead, I pulled out all the immune boosting, body healing, magical wellness bags of tricks I had and hoped they would kick in fast. And they did. Whew!
So this week, I'm sharing all of my favorite natural, cold fighting tricks with you. We aren't talking NyQuill or other over the counter ways to stop the symptoms while simultaneously keeping your body from learning how to fight these bugs off itself. Nope.
We are talking about adding real food, herbs, and essential oils that can support your body's natural desire to heal itself. Given half a chance, your body will heal itself. We just need to give it the space to do so with a little natural support.
So here you are, 6 tips to boost your immune system and fight that cold, naturally.
1. Lemon Water + Ginger
If you've been in this community for a while, you are probably aware of my advocacy to enjoy warm lemon water in the morning. It's got a number of benefits, but when you are sick, the vitamin C boost you get from it is especially important.
When you are starting to feel sick, give it a little boost by adding fresh ginger root. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe a sore throat while also killing some viruses that cause colds.
Enjoy a warm cup of water with the juice of half a lemon and about an inch of peeled ginger root, 2-3 times a day while you are sick.
2. Healing Foods
It's important to eat real-food year round, but especially so when you are sick. Your body needs as many nutrients as it can get. Here are some foods that are particularly good to consume when you are feeling blah-
Strawberries- Lot's of vitamin C.
Sweet potatoes- Filled with beta-carotene which turns into vitamin A in the body, helping protect us from free radical damage.
Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.)- Combats free radicals, helping to boost immune system.
Spinach- Again, vitamin C.
Eggs- Dose of vitamin D, known for regulating and strengthening immunity.
Alliums (garlic, onions, scallions, etc.)- Great for loosening up phlegm and are anti-inflammatory.
Tea- Offers disease-fighting polyphenols and flavonoids, while feeling good on a sore throat.
I get most of these in by having a smoothie in the morning w/ lot's of berries, lemon juice, greens, and other yummy stuff, and a big helping of a sweet potato, broccoli, garlic, and onion soup for lunch/dinner, while enjoying lemon/ginger water and tea throughout the day.
Spices have been used to heal for centuries around the world. It is important to add more spices to your routine when you are feeling sick to give your body a little immune boost. Add them to every meal and play around with them to see what you like.
Here are some of the best spices to add to boost immunity~
Turmeric- It is definitely having a moment right now. Loaded w/ antioxidants that fight against free radicals. Add this to your scrambled eggs or any soup you make.
Ground ginger- Again, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties. Add to smoothies, a stir fry, and a warm almond milk elixir.
Cayenne pepper- Activates the circulatory system to fight colds and has a boost of vitamin A. It is great in soups or anything you want to add a kick to.
Cinnamon- Fights inflammation and disease with a nice dose of polyphenols.
4. Bee Products
It is amazing what bees create! When we source bee products responsibly, we can benefit from some of their handy work.
Raw honey is great for it's restorative affects. It helps sooth sore throats, nourishes the digestive tract, and is known to have a calming affect. It is great to enjoy before bed as it helps balance serotonin and melatonin levels, promoting quality sleep, which is so important when sick.
Propolis is used in the bee community to line the walls of their hives. It is basically their immune system, keeping unwanted things out. For humans, propolis contains over 300 natural compounds that support immunity, making it my go-to alternative to Airborne or Emergen-C.
It is important to find bee products from companies that treat the bees well, are sustainable, and create natural, raw products. One of my favorite companies is Bee Keeper's Naturals, where I get my propolis spray and occasionally honey, if I'm feeling fancy. I also get honey from my local farm that happens to have a bee keeper, so I know that it is high quality.
An interesting fact- honey is one of the only foods on earth that doesn't go bad. It does not need anything in it to keep it shelf stable. Companies do put additives in their honey so that it stays runny for a longer period of time. Raw honey should naturally start to crystalize and harden. If it doesn't after a few months, chances are the honey has additives and does not have the healing benefits you want.
You've heard it before but it's worth repeating, it's important to stay hydrated when you are sick. Your body is working really hard to fight off the bad germs you came in contact with. Help it out by consuming plenty of water. It will help flush out some of the toxins, supporting your kidneys to balance electrolytes and eliminate unwanted waste. It can also help clear out congestion in your body and help get mucus out.
Shoot for 10-15 cups of water a day. Start the day off strong by getting in at least two cups before you head out the door. We wake up dehydrated so getting in a good dose of water first thing helps get your body hydrated again. Be sure to have a water bottle in your car and one with you at work.
Hydro Flask is my fave because they are insulated, free of BPAs or phthalates, last FOREVER, are relatively local to me (Bend, OR), and give back to local parks by working w/ Parks for All. Grab a water bottle and stay hydrated.
6. Essentail Oils
Essentail oils aren't new. People have been using them for centuries, but they have really gained popularity over the last handful of years, becoming more and more mainstream. The truth is, there isn't a ton of indisputable research yet that essential oils can heal in any medicinal sort of way. However, essential oil users swear by them. They are being given praise for all kinds of things, from relieving colds to combating migraines, so why not give them a shot?
I'm not an avid essential oils gal but I find them incredibly soothing when I get sick. I love using a combo of eucalyptus, tea tree, and lavender in my humidifier, turning it on in my bedroom 60 minutes before bed. When I finally get up to my bedroom for the night, the smell makes me feel cozy and sleepy, but also like my congestion is about to be healed.
Maybe it's all the placebo affect, maybe there is something to the essential oil thing. Either way, it works for me. Maybe it could work for you.
If you don't have a humidifier, you can pour a few drops on a tissue and place it under your pillow or add some drops and water to a squirter bottle and spray your room. Give it a shot!
So there you have it, my 6 tips to naturally boosting your immunity and fighting that cold. Nothing crazy, just eat real, nutrient dense food, add spices, consume plenty of water, experiment with some bee products, and tryout essential oils. You will be feeling better in no time!
I would love to hear from you! Share your go-to immune boosting routine below!
Wishing you a healthy and restorative fall season.