Respiratory viruses, with their achy joints, fatigue, congestion, and headache are not an obligatory part of cold weather. Use these tips to avoid the cold and flu this season!

1. Know how we get sick

Cold and flu begin with a virus landing on the mucus membrane lining of your eyes, nose, or mouth when someone coughs, sneezes, or talks close to our face or when we touch our eyes or nose with contaminated hands. So be sure to wash your hands frequently throughout the day and keep your hands away from your face.

2. Prepare yourself for winter

Winter brings less movement, less sunshine, and fewer fresh foods. Whether or not a cold virus makes it past our mucus membranes and into our bloodstream depends on how healthy we are in that moment.  Fortify yourself by eating more plants and fewer inflammatory foods, including processed carbohydrates, such breads, cookies, cakes, donuts, and sugar, including the sugar in alcohol.

3. Sleep

Many studies show that the most significant risk factor for developing a full-blown cold, if exposed, is sleep deprivation. Aim for eight hours of sleep each night. If you feel you’re getting a cold, rest in 20 minute increments during the day to give your immune system time to fight back the virus.

4. Drink water and move your body

Cold and cozy winter weather makes moving less appealing and drinking water less desirable, but both of these are needed to keep our immune systems strong and to detoxify our bodies. Make sure to drink even more water when you feel a cold coming on, and move each day, getting outside whenever possible.

5. Know your anti-cold and flu medications

Traditional over-the-counter cold and flu remedies dry out our mucus membranes by constricting blood vessels and decreasing swelling. While this might make us feel better in the short run, it does nothing to help us fight the virus and may in fact weaken our mucus membrane’s defenses. More natural remedies tend to fortify our immune systems, helping our body fight the virus. Use elderberry syrup, Umcka, zinc lozenges, and probiotics at the first signs of a cold. For flu, keep Oscillococcinum on hand.

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