Throughout our lives we've been told all the things we should do to ward off an unwanted cold.
1. Your body can only absorb a limited amount of vitamin C, so there’s no point taking lots.
Our bodies are smart, and levels of vitamin C in the body are tightly regulated.
The production of immune molecules is vitamin C dependent. When we're sick our bodies will be able to absorb more more vitamin C so that it can produce more immune molecules. Any vitamin C your body doesn’t need will be excreted.
Excess vitamin C will sit in the bowel, attract water which, you guessed it, leads to a loose bowel movement. Loose bowels, is the key way your body will let you know it's had enough vitamin C.
Our body knows exactly how much vitamin C it needs. When we are sick, we will be able to absorb more of it.
2. Dry your hair or you’ll get a cold.
There’s some amount of truth to this—not to say that you will absolutely get a cold every time you don’t dry your hair—but here’s where this tale stems from:
When our bodies are warm, our enzyme pathways function more efficiently. This may be the reason why we get a fever when we are sick—our body ramps up up the heat to speed up the production of immune molecules as there’s an increased demand to fight off whatever pathogen has entered your system.
The lower our body temperature, the more sluggish our immune function is. Having wet hair—especially during winter—will inhibit our body's ability to reach a warmer temperature.
Stay warm to support your immune function, especially when you’re unwell. Don’t get overly hung up on the dry hair unless you’re unwell, in which case drying your hair will support your body staying warm, and fighting infection faster.
3. You should eat garlic cloves and honey when you have a sore throat.
Both garlic and honey—Mānuka honey in particular—have anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties making them a beneficial concoction for fighting infection.
When you're sick, making ‘flu bombs’ with a bunch of anti-bacterial properties is a great idea. Here's a very simple recipe you can use as a base:
Flu Bomb Recipe
- 1/3 C hot water
- 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tsp honey
- Put all ingredients in a glass.
- Stir until honey has dissolved.
- Drink very quickly—the garlic is more effective than it is tasty.
The anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties in some natural foods such as garlic and honey help your body fight invaders.
4. You’re more likely to get sick when you’re stressed.
When we're chronically stressed, our cortisol levels are elevated. Our bodies use nutrients to create cortisol. Nutrients are also essential for powering our immune system. Cortisol production takes precedence over most other processes in the body.
Chronic stress commonly leads to nutrient deficiencies which is associated with impaired immune function.
Making time in our lives to relax and unwind brings down our cortisol levels, conserving our nutrient supplies, supporting the efficacy of immune function.
Stress is one of the biggest compromisers to our immune system.
5. Starve a cold, feed a fever.
Sometimes when we’re unwell, we don’t feel like eating. That's okay, you don’t force yourself to eat if you don’t feel like it.
Food can be a load on the immune system, which will want to be concentrating its efforts on fighting which pathogen is in your system.
If you do feel up to eating, consuming nourishing, whole foods like bone and chicken broth, and cooked veggies that are easy on the digestive system.
Because of a lot of the immune system is actually in our digestive system. Food can be somewhat a distraction in the process of recovery.
Listen to your body. If you don’t feel like eating, don’t. If you do feel like eating, have whole, immune supporting foods that are easy on the digestive system.
6. Drink fluids when you’re sick.
Keeping fluids up when you’re sick is very important to support enzymatic pathways. Warm liquids are especially beneficial when sick as they keep the body temperature up.
Our system—including of course, our immune system—function best when well-hydrated.
There's a lot of truth in these common responses to colds and the flu. In a nutshell, the best way to support our immune system is to:
- Stay warm.
- Stay hydrated.
- Stay rested.
- Stay nourished.
- Bodies are smart—listen to yours.