11.05.2008

Fighting the Winter Bugs: 5 Tips

Finally the winter chill is on here in Oregon, and it seems like these are the days that people seem to get afflicted with head colds, sore throats, fevers, and the like.

I wanted to share a few tips for avoiding the bugs in hopes that my readers can enjoy a healthy season.

Through my reading and research, my eyes have been opened to the fact that there is actually an alternative to the "germ theory" put forth by Louis Pastuer. I have much more to write about that in another post, but suffice to say there is also a "host theory" of disease, which says that when the "host's" (or person's) internal "balance" is off, disease takes over.

The fact is that pathogens are always present in our guts; really icky ones, in fact, including e coli and all kinds of other less-than-helpful critters that make their homes inside of us. Usually, the bad bugs are outnumbered by the beneficial ones, and as long as we feed our body food that nourishes, we will grow the good guys who can then keep the bad guys in check.

In this theory, disease hits when we get off balance. Sugar is a major disrupter to the body chemistry. Stress also depleats the body of vitamin and mineral stores which nourish our glands. When the "ammo" (i.e. vitamins and minerals) is gone, the bad guys start to multiply and take over.

The result is the body's immune response. They send in the "big guns", like mucus to trap and excrete excess toxins. Sneezing and coughing are other mechanisms the body uses to detox from these nasty bugs. The resulting symptoms indicate a "cold".

The body has amazing ways of cleansing toxins. Fevers are another way the body heals, as well as diarrhea and vomiting. All of these things appear to be "the flu", but as we know "the flu" and "a cold" cannot be cured by antibiotics or any sort of medicine. Over-the-counter cold remedies only suppress the very symptoms the body uses to clease and heal!!! Why else do we always hear that there are "always new strains of flu and colds each year"?

Here are 5 ways our family has been able to avoid major bugs:

1) Fortify your "immune ammo" with supporting vitamins and minerals through food . Here's my short list of necessities: Cod liver oil is a must, with ample amounts of natural A and D. Vitamin C from Acerola Cherry Powder works wonders when runny noses present themselves. Broth made from real chicken bones chock full of onions and garlic is very nourishing and inexpensive to make. Coconut water is a miracle-working hydrater for when fevers, diarrhea, or vomiting are present. It's also very high in minerals. Sea vegetables such as kelp, dulse, arame, and wakame are extremely nutrient-dense and easy to digest when properly prepared. Fermented Beet Kvass (a tonic of cubed beets, water, whey, and sea salt, fermented 48 hours) is essential for alkalizing the blood and supplying vital minerals to the body's stores. We also find Virgin Coconut Oil, with its antifungal and antimicrobial properties as a strong weapon of defense , as well as the superfood Spirulina. Garlic, onion, and chili peppers are also very antifungal.

2. Avoid sugar like the plague: I've come to believe that most all of the common colds/flu bugs that children acquire can be easily avoided by a low-sugar or sugar-free diet. White sugar, without question, should be avoided. But it's also important to limit fruit juice, honey, agave, maple syrup, Rapadura, and all "natural sugars" as well. Even though the latter have more nutritional value, they are still sugar, and sugar feeds the bad bugs. You don't want it around when your body's trying to heal. My theory is that those who avoid sugar and white flour have stronger immune systems simply because these things really tax and acidify the system. And by the way, sugar-free does not mean using artificial sweeteners like Splenda or Nutra-Sweet. The only thing I really allow is Stevia, which is simply an herb. I like to use the Stevia Concentrate.

3. Hydrate: It goes without saying that juice, soda pop, gatoraid and virtually all "commercial" drinks are full of sugar and should not be used. Fortunately, there are many other delicious drinks. Water actually helps the lymphatic system (the system repsonsible for flushing toxins out of our body) carry away toxins, so that they don't have to get "stuck" in our sinuses or anywhere else and make us sick. We love kombucha (which is a fermented tea that is full of beneficial probiotics, minerals, and B vitamins) as well as kefir. For a healthy alternative to "sports drinks":

Thrifty Oreganicaid:
2 cups filtered water
40 drops Concentrace Liquid Minerals OR pinch RealSalt
8 drops Stevia
Juice of 1-2 lemons OR Raw Apple Cidar Vinegar

4. Keep moving. I believe that one of the reasons people tend to get sicker in the wintertime is that we are naturally more sedentary and we remain indoors for long periods of time. Exercise helps "pump" the lymphatic system and oxygenates our blood, and bad buggers don't like oxygen one bit! Don't forget to get outside e very day for at least 20 minutes, even if it's cold and rainy. The fresh air does a body good!

5. Don't fight the healing process: Obviously there are times when symptoms mentioned in this article indicate a serious condition which can only be treated by antibiotics. But those cases are few and far between. For most of us, all we can do is make the best of the situation and get rest, and nourishing food to help the body heal itself. Mentally, it helps to view colds and other discomforts with thankfulness at the body's amazing way of communicating that something's "not right". Tune in and listen. Your body is an amazing, intricate machine. Let it do what it needs to and don't interfere with loads of "medicines" that only impede the process.

What to do about the annoying factor:

Runny noses: Wet cotton socks with wool socks on top have been known to help clear a stuffed head (it works for my son!)

Ear aches: Garlic olive oil or hydrogen peroxide in the ear have both been very helpful to me.

Sore throat: Gargle with a combo of apple cidar vinegar, raw honey, minced fresh garlic and a dash of cayenne. It works fast. Kefir also has an amazing way of instantly working to soothe and cure a sore throat.

Fever: A fever is the body's attempt to kill the pathogens/virus by raising the body temperature. You can help the body do that by wrapping yourself or your loved one in a warm blanket and allowing them to "sweat it out". Beware, of course, of spiky high fevers.

These are just some home remedies from a mama whose kids (thankfully) don't get sick very often. This is no substitute for medical advise or treatment.

What are your tried and true tips for beating the winter bugs?

4 comments:

Mimi said...

Cool, thanks!

Helenrr said...

Hey there Carrie, great suggestions. We avoid fruit juice for the exact reason you mention, as well as soda (special treat only, and hopefully the cane sugar sort). I tend to worry less about flours and sugars simply because I work to switch them all around and not depend on any one type-as well most of our bread and treats are homemade, the best way to control intakes, and sneak in the good stuff. I also read labels and avoid high sugar foods-we'd rather 'spend' the sugar on homemade cookies!
As well, high oxidant juices are put in green tea/black tea blends, as well I think the fact that we drink red wine produced here helps, as the grapes have a natural antibiotic defense built in...while it is minimal, it adds up! (just don't drink a lot or the whole balance is shot-both with dark juices and wine :)
That being said I use elderberry tincture when a "influenza" style fever comes on (or if we are not sure), Umcka cold care by Nature's Way works well too for both colds and flues (sometimes, they are really hard to tell apart). As well I have different herbs and homeopathy's in my cupboard that have been proven to work including: Yin Chow (colds), Echinacea, Echinacea with vC and Zinc, Echinacea and Goldenseal (good for head colds), B & T homeopathic cough medicine (best we have found), Astragalus (best for daily immune boosting), and a variety of homeopathic remedies bought by specific issues (head cold with yellow phlegm for example). I like to use the Nettie pot to rinse the sinus' with warm water and salt- frustrate germs :) Also good as a gargle.
For ear aches, I swear by grapeseed oil. Works like a charm.
Also, the hand soap/dish soap from Trader Joe's with antibaterial properties (different than anti bacterial additives-they are to be avoided) is good (Earth Friendly makes this and other great products). Washing hands and cleaning door knobs helps keep germs at bay.
There is a ton of things we can do to stay healthy, isn't there?! I have had maybe several cold "scares" in the last year whereas the folks I work with get sick all the time. Guess they need to read your blog Carrie!
Thanks for the tips I didn't know about,
Take care,
Aunt Helen

Anonymous said...

Although your suggestion on avoiding sugar is a good one, your view about sugar and sickness isn't necessarily totally accurate. I'm sure avoiding sugar can help keep you healthier, but lack of sugar has not kept me free of colds. Due to a blood sugar problem I am on a special diet (not the typical diabetic one) which is getting my blood sugar under control and lowering it without meds. Anyway, I have been completely off of grains for several months, except for a sprouted grain English muffin every 3-4 days to help keep me regular. So I am totally off of white flour as well as rice. I have even cut out processed foods that contain food starch. I also do not eat any fruit, sugars or sweeteners, not even stevia. Yet I have gotten a cold twice since I started this diet. I primarily eat various meats, saturated fats, whole milk and whole milk products (yogurt, cheese, buttermilk, etc) along with low starch vegetables.

On a slightly different topic, God says not to be jealous, but it is hard for me not to be a little jealous of those who have sources of raw milk, pastured eggs, etc. I love aw milk. I used to get it occasionally when I was a kid. There are no sources close to me. I followed your link to find a u-pick farm near me and clicked on my state. It had my city listed as an area. I was excited, but farms were listed under counties and there were no farms in my county. I don't know why that listed counties under the city name, my city is only in one county and the counties listed are not close enough to my city to be considered part of the city.

term papers writing said...

I think some studies involving the health impact of sugars are effectively inconclusive.