When the nights draw in and the weather turns, it can seem like getting a cold is just an inevitability. The good news is, if you find yourself in this situation, there's no need to despair - colds don't have to last as long as you think they do. Here, Nutritionist Sarah Flower shares her top tips to help you ensure you stay one step ahead and combat it in just 24 hours.
1. Drink, Drink, Drink!
Keeping hydrated is absolutely vital to help 'flush' out the cold, as well as to break down congestion and keep your throat lubricated. Try to avoid sugary or milky drinks, especially if you have a lot of mucus as this can often make it worse. Instead opt for water (sparkling water with lemon can be very refreshing), or soothing warm herbal, or fruit teas. Herbal teas such as sage, ginger, lemon, camomile, liquorice root, slippery elm and green tea can also help ease a sore, nose or throat problems. For those suffering from inflammation of the mucus membranes, fresh turmeric tea is perfect as an anti-inflammatory.
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2. Up your Vitamin C
This well-known vitamin is extremely helpful when fighting infection, so at the first sign of a cold be sure to increase your intake by eating plenty of berries, citrus fruits, papayas, broccoli and red peppers which will help keep you protected.
3. Boil some bones
Bone stock is packed full of nutrients, including gelatine, collagen and a whole host of vitamin and minerals to help heal and get you back on your feet. Add some garlic for its powerful anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-catarrhal properties, and some chilli, which acts as a natural decongestant. Turmeric, cinnamon and a dash of fresh ginger can also be added and will help to speed up your metabolism.
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4. Use a supplement
A melt-in-the-mouth supplement such as New Era Q can help to ward off symptoms of catarrh and sinus disorders, while New Era J can help those suffering with more general cold symptoms. When taken together, they promise to offer the ultimate protection from colds and flu. (Available to buy from powerhealth.co.uk for £8.79 each).
5. Step Outside
When it comes to combating a cold Vitamin D is essential in helping to regulate immune response. During the colder months many people become deficient in Vitamin D because they stay inside avoiding the weather but you need to make sure you expose yourself to the sun's UVB rays by going outside for at least 15 minutes per day - even if it's chilly. For those unable to do so, a great alternative is opting for vitamin D3 supplements. Taking one daily not only boosts the immune system and fights infection but can also help with depression, bone and joint and heart health.
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6. Stock up on Zinc
Try to incorporate plenty of zinc-rich foods in your diet, including pumpkin seeds, spinach, beef, wheat germ and cocoa. This is because the zinc will decrease the time period of the symptoms you are experiencing. You can also take a good quality supplement such as a Zinc Citrate daily.
7. Go Natural
Pelargonium is a herbal remedy which can help with respiratory infections, sore throats and general cold and flu symptoms. Take this remedy as soon as you begin to feel the onset of illness and continue until you see signs of improvement.
8. Take it easy!
We all think we are invincible and push forward no matter what but when feeling under the weather ensure you take some time out, turn off the Wi-Fi, grab the duvet, relax and de-stress. This not only feels good but can also boost your immune system. The perfect excuse for a lazy day!
But, don't just think you're resting because you're chilling out. Getting actual sleep is key as it will help your body to restore faster and fight off infection. This is your free pass to take multiple naps in addition to having a fair few early nights.
10. Add moisture to the air
Winter is radiation season which means your house can become really dry leading to throat irritation. Of course, it's probably too cold to turn it off altogether but counter it by adding a humidifier to introduce some moisture into the air too. It could really help loosen up your congestion.