We all get sick and it sucks every time. There's never a good time to get sick in our busy lives. Hippocrates knew what he was talking about in terms of food being the most powerful medicine, and I wanted to provide my own personal tips and tricks for kicking a cold fast using only nutrition, vitamins and natural methods.
First and foremost, make sure you're getting plenty of rest. I'm sure you've heard this before, but seriously.. Make it your priority. Go to bed earlier than you might normally. Sleep in a little extra. Maybe you have to miss your morning workout, maybe you don't get to watch that TV episode. Whatever it is, getting enough to sleep to allow your body to heal itself is essential. When we sleep, our body is able to focus on the recovery and repair of what's wrong rather than making sure we are able to function.
As always, stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, teas, anything to keep water intake high. Echinacea tea is a personal favorite. Echinacea supports the immune system and can reduce the symptoms typically associated with a cold. It can be found over the counter in the form of tea packets and loose tea, as well as in a capsule form.
Next, avoid sugars. Sugars in nearly every form are the devil when you're sick. Studies have shown that sugars weaken the immune system by decreasing the responsiveness of neutrophils, the white blood cells important for the functioning of our immune system. So if you're pounding bread or sweets, your body will be unable to fight back against the illness. This includes not only sugars, but any intake of complex carbohydrates (bread, pasts, etc) that will be turned into sugar in the body. Instead, fill you body with nutrient dense carbs like green veggies and small amounts of fruit.
For actually working towards curing the problem, we start with garlic. Take a clove of garlic and chop it into small pieces, roughly pill sized or smaller. Let them set on the counter for approximately 5 minutes, then swallow them whole. That's right, down the hatch with the raw garlic. It may not be the most pleasant thing, but garlic has some healing powers. Garlic contains allicin, a chemical that is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-cancer, anti-hypertension, antioxidant.. The stuff is anti-everything, okay? It will kill anything in your body that shouldn't be there - i.e. the bacteria lurking around causing your cold.
Next comes bone broth. Initially, bone broth might sound intimidating, but it has a TON of nutrients that will help in the healing process and get you back to normal, so I STRONGLY recommend giving it a chance. Bone broth is a nutritional powerhouse and contains several nutrients. First is glycine, a nonessential amino acid. Glycine is essential for wound healing, as well as increases glucose production and digestion. It's also vital for muscle growth and performance. Next, marrow bones contain collagen. When cooked, collagen breaks down to gelatin, which supports gut healing and is beneficial for autoimmune diseases or systematic inflammation. This is why when making bone broth, we break open the bones. The more marrow extracted from the bones, the more collagen dense the broth will be. This also means, that when the bone broth cools down in the refrigerator, it will likely have a Jell-O consistency. Don't worry - it will return to a smooth, watery broth once heated. You can also add chicken feet to your bone broth recipe, which is very high in collagen.
Here is my own bone broth recipe. I like to store chicken leg bones in the freezer for making bone broth when I get sick. It's also great to have broth made and stored in the freezer for when that cold sneaks up. Then you'll be able to immediately drink your bone broth and start kicking it.
One chicken carcass
2-4 additional leg leg bones
2 quarts water
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1-2 carrots, chopped into large chunks
2 celery stalks, chopped into large chunks
2 gloves of garlic, lightly smashed
Dash of each: rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley
Remove legs for chicken carcass. Carefully break open all leg bones using a hammer or the blunt end of a knife. Place carcass and legs bones into slow cooker. Add water, onion, celery, carrots, garlic and herbs. Mix to get majority of vegetables below the water line. Cook on low for at least 8 hours, up to 12 hours. Strain the broth into a large bowl using a slotted ladle or cheesecloth. Discard the waste. Once the broth has cooled, store it in the fridge for up to five days or freeze for longer-term use. Heat broth to a comfortable drinking temperature and add salt for taste.
Lastly, there are two essential vitamins I recommend supplementing into the diet. The first one should be obvious - Vitamin C. I do not, however, recommend drinking orange juice to get your vitamin C. Many popular orange juice brands contain added sugar, which isn't going to help your immune system and you may be canceling out all positive effects of the Vitamin C by introducing so much sugar into the body. Even all natural, no sugar added orange contains a ton of sugars from the oranges (which are normally great) but not going to benefit this cause. Instead, I recommend taking a vitamin C capsule twice daily. There are also several foods that contain more Vitamin C than oranges. Next is Zinc. Taking Zinc by oral capsule will prevent the disease from spreading within the body. Typically, it's best to take zinc during the beginning of the cold in an attempt to keep it from becoming full blown, but once you feel you're adequately sick, just skip the zinc and make sure you're getting plenty of Vitamin C to support your hard-working immune system.
I have used these remedies on several occasions to relieve and completely heal from colds, strep throat, and other infections. I'm the type of person who hates going to the doctor just for them to tell me to rest up, or automatically getting an antibiotic that may or may not help, and might cause further gut issues. I always try to use these remedies to fight the cold first, but please use your own judgement and consult a physician if you are concerned about your health.
What are your favorite cold remedies or traditional family cures?