The common cold and influenza are both infections caused by viruses that attack the upper respiratory tract; the viruses are different, however. There are over 200 viruses that can cause the common cold, but the most common ones are rhinoviruses. The flu is caused by either type A, B or C influenza viruses. Type A is capable of infecting animals which can spread to humans; it constantly changes and is generally responsible for the large flu epidemics. The type B virus is only found in humans and the symptoms can be less debilitating compared to the Type A virus. Type C is a less severe strain of the flu and does not cause epidemics. Both the flu and colds have similar symptoms, so how do we know what we have? Here is a list of characteristics that summarises the signs and symptoms of each:
Cold or Flu?
|Fever||Rare||Usually High – 37.8 degrees C or higher. May last for 3-4 days.|
|General Aches & Pains||Mild||Common – can be severe|
|Fatigue||Mild||Severe – can last for up to 3 weeks|
|Stuffy/ Runny Nose||Common||Ocassionally|
|Chest Infection or Cough||Common – mild to moderate||Common – can become severe|
|Duration||7-10 Days||Up to a month|
Here are a few remedies that might help if you’re struck by one or the other. And the best part? Most ingredients can be found in your kitchen cupboard!
This concoction is a potent blend of superfoods that will help fight the effects of colds and flu. Turmeric and ginger are anti-inflammatory and the citrus fruits are full of vitamin C and bioflavanoids which work synergistically to increase the number and quality of white blood cells. Mix 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder with 1/4 tsp black pepper, 2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger and 1 tsp raw honey until it forms a paste. Add the juice of one orange and half a lemon, and mix until everything is combined and the honey is dissolved. Drink up!
Fill a large bowl with boiling water and add one drop of oregano oil. Place a towel loosely over your head over the bowl and inhale for a few minutes. The steam in combination with the oil will help clear your sinuses and may help destroy bacteria in the lungs. Oregano oil is praised for its antibiotic and antiviral properties.
Zinc Lozenges – zinc can shorten the duration of a cold or may even stop it altogether; lozenges, in particular, have been found to target the cold virus in the throat and stop it from invading the rest of the body. As zinc can have side-effects, it’s best to consult your practitioner before supplementing. Do not exceed a total of 100mg daily.
Probiotics – 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut. A balanced and more diverse micro-biome is known to enhance our immunity while a less diverse or unbalanced micro-biome can have negative impacts on health.A study found that individuals that took a daily probiotic containing B. bifidum reported less sick days for colds and flu compared to those taking a placebo. I recommend taking a multi-strain probiotic as the different strains work synergistically together.
Foods to Eat
Chicken broth – it’s important to drink lots of fluids when you have a cold or the flu and chicken broth is perfect for adding to the hydration quota; it also helps to thin out mucous, relieving congestion. Making broth using the bones of a chicken can help to reduce inflammation and promote healing thanks to the gelatin and high mineral content.
Garlic – with antiviral, antimicrobial, antioxidant and antibacterial properties, garlic truly is a superfood.To reap the potential cold and flu fighting effects of the allicin found in garlic, make sure to chop it finely and let it rest for 15 minutes. This allows the enzymes in garlic to react with allicin to make it more powerful. Unfortunately, cooking destroys allicin so it’s better to eat it raw. Try mixing the chopped garlic with a teaspoon of manuka honey to make it more palatable.
Foods to Avoid
Dairy – Particularly dairy produced with A1 milk. An exorphin derived from the breakdown of the protein beta-CM-7 found in A1 milk stimulates mucous secretion from glands in the gut. The same glands found in the respiratory tract are also thought to be aggravated by this protein in the presence of inflammation. This may explain why asthmatics feel better on a dairy elimination diet. I don’t recommend consuming dairy generally because it’s inflammatory and we have no nutritional need for it. Read ‘Acne & the Dairy Connection,’ ‘Is Milk Past its Use By Date,’ and ‘Why Berries & Yoghurt are NOT a Good Idea‘ if you need more convincing.
Sugar – besides being devoid of any nutrients essential for the body’s recovery process, studies have found that sugar in any form (except starch) decreases phagocytic function. Phagocytes are immune cells that literally eat up (or engulf) invading microbes in our bodies, therefore sugar may affect recovery from colds and flu by reducing immune support.
I hope you found this post useful. If you have any questions, please comment below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep warm this weekend, my Australian readers!
Love Stace x