Fortifying Immunity: Strategies to Resist and Address the Common Cold
With winter approaching again, colds are in season more than usual. That stuffy nose, sore throat, and painful cough that challenges us, has come back for another round. The common cold is a virus that infects the nose and throat area; it’s a respiratory infection. It can cause a runny or stuffy nose, nasal congestion, and sneezing. It usually lasts for about seven to ten days, depending on if you do anything to help it.
Colds are one of the illnesses that doctors and modern medicine don’t provide a cure for. Using medicines that temporarily relieve symptoms, don’t actually get rid of the virus. Although there isn’t a set cure, there are many simple things a person can do to help prevent or get rid of colds, starting with your lifestyle. The way you eat, your daily activity, and your exposure to nature, all have a part to play in your well being and building your immune system.
Your daily food intake has a lot to do with keeping a strong immune system. Eating clean, natural foods can assist in a good diet, but also keeping a balanced diet is very important. In traditional African Healing, the principle of balance is at its core. Too much meat and not enough vegetables and grains brings an imbalance just as all vegetables and no meats or grains will do the same. After living in West Africa for five years, I’ve noticed how different the lifestyle is. Firstly, the diet is entirely different; deep fried and sugary foods are rarely eaten. All the meals are homemade with natural ingredients and all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. The food has medicine incorporated into it to ensure good digestion as well! In the traditional African diet there are some foods that are just not included, such as dairy, cold foods and drinks, and sweets. Many of these foods are mucus producing which can contribute to or worsen a cold and weaken the immune system.
Traditional African living is predominantly outdoors, unlike in the West where people spend most of their days and nights inside. Cooking, communing, washing clothes, relaxation and recreation all take place outdoors for many in Africa. Going inside to sleep in a very well-ventilated space is the minimal time spent indoors. This type of lifestyle encourages activity rather than sedentary living and also allows for access to continuous fresh air unlike indoor living where the norm is to recycle stale air in small, enclosed spaces. As a result, contracting and spreading colds is less common.
Simple Yet Natural Cold Remedies:
- Vitamin C:
Drinking liquid forms of vitamin C, or eating fruits full of vitamin C at the onset of cold symptoms, can potentially get rid of the virus before it spreads too far. Some such fruits are kiwi, oranges, lemons, cherries, plums and cantaloupe.
- Garlic, Green Apple & Honey:
This simple recipe is used all the time in natural healing. Garlic in general is a good food to consume regularly to either avoid or eliminate sickness. This remedy is used to take care of mucus filled coughs as a result of the mucus setting deeper in the lungs.
Preparation: Finely chop one or two green apples and approximately a head of peeled garlic. Mash the apples and garlic or blend. Following this, add raw honey to taste. Consume this paste twice a day for about three consecutive days.
- Chewing Ginger:
Chewing on pure pieces of ginger is a wonderful easy remedy to assist with clearing up any congestion you’re experiencing. Coating ginger pieces in salt or sugar is good for easing up painful coughs.
- Citrus Tea:
Another simple natural remedy is a citrus tea made with either lemon or lime, garlic, ginger, honey and cloves. This can help with coughing and the tea's warm liquid alleviates throat discomfort and helps with congestion.
Preparation: Start by slicing lemon/lime, garlic and ginger. Place this mixture in a pot of water with about ten cloves and boil. After pouring the tea into your cup, mix well with about two tablespoons of raw honey.
- Spicy Foods:
Spicy foods alleviate congestion as well. Mixing spicy vegetables with hot foods like soups or sauces is a good way to incorporate spice into your everyday foods which can also help build a stronger immune system and healthy digestion.
Getting young children to drink a whole cup of tea can be a struggle, so here is another remedy meant for younger ones:
- Lime/Lemon juice & honey: Squeezing pure lime or lemon juice and mixing with a couple tablespoons of pure honey and taking a few spoons everyday can help to alleviate congestion.
Colds have been a problem for centuries, and they have been treated naturally for just as long. Try some of these immunity boosters to avoid or reduce the occurrence of colds during the cold and flu season. And if you want to target the problem and not just the symptoms, try some of these simple and natural remedies.