A change from warmer to cooler outdoor temperatures can leave many people sneezing, sniffling and coughing. But instead of reaching for those medicine bottles and pills, there may be some natural and alternative ways to either avoid, or help relieve the symptoms of, common colds and the flu.
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Believe it or not, those annoying symptoms you’re experiencing are part of the natural healing process — evidence that the immune system is battling illness. When the body’s defenses are weakened, infections (bacteria, viruses, or fungi) are able to manifest in the body. Fighting infection is best handled by building up the strength of the whole body. Here’s how you can do so, naturally:
Eat your fruits and veggies
Eating a wide variety of fresh, wholesome foods packed with powerful vitamins and minerals is the first step to ensuring a strong immune system. Vitamins A, B6, C and E and the minerals zinc, iron, copper and selenium are critical for maintaining strength and immunity. Make sure that your diet consists of a rainbow of fruits and vegetables to ensure that you are getting all of the necessary nutrients. Supplementing your diet with a daily multivitamin will fill the gaps where your diet falls short and should be an essential part of your health regime. During cold and flu season, increase your dosage of vitamin C for added virus fighting benefits. Should you still become sick, studies have shown that the powerful antioxidants in vitamin C can reduce both the symptoms and duration of the flu.
Eat more garlic
Certain foods can give you an extra boost and should be factored into your regular eating habits. Garlic is known for its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties and can prevent infections from taking hold and spreading. A daily serving of two raw garlic cloves will provide you with the bulbous herb’s healthy benefits. Tip: To avoid offensive garlic breath, cut the cloves into smaller pieces and then swallow them with water or herbal tea. Follow with a sprig of parsley.
A mushroom a day
Mushrooms have been found to increase production and activity of white blood cells, improving your chances of fighting off infection. Both shiitake and maitake mushrooms provide the biggest immunity boost.