HEALTH

How To Avoid Getting Sick

Katherine Pannell

28 March 2020

Are you sick of catching every cold and flu under the sun (pun intended)? Feeling ill is not a fun time and more often than not, we can actually prevent catching those dreaded bugs. I try to put a lot of effort into my health and even though I don’t always get it right, for the most part, it pays off. I haven’t been properly sick in over two years; at most, I’ll have a couple of days dealing with a runny nose and itchy throat. Here are the ways that I boost my immune system and avoid catching colds and the flu:

Disclaimer: I am in no way qualified to be giving medical advice. Everything that I mention is me sharing information purely based on personal experience. You should always check with a healthcare professional before trying new medication, supplements or diets.

1. Take Care of the Foundation

Skip to number 4 if you already know about the impact of diet, sleep and exercise on your health.

I’m sorry to repeat things that you have no doubt already heard about a million times but taking care of your baseline health is that important. Leading a healthy lifestyle will always put you at an advantage when fighting off whatever comes your way. Mostly because your immune system is your main line of defence and keeping that strong is arguably the best thing you can do for yourself.

Fresh and healthy foods are your ticket to a strong immune system. 

Photograph by Eiliv-Sonas Aceron via Unsplash

To me, this means eating a balanced diet made up mostly of vegetarian, fresh, whole foods. Every person is going to have a different interpretation of a healthy and balanced diet and I’m not going to tell anyone what to eat. There are so many different diets floating around such as plant-based, Mediterranean and Paleo that all claim to be the healthiest but I really don’t think it matters. Whatever your preference is, just do it right.

Eat enough fruits and vegetables. If you’re eating grains, try to choose whole and unprocessed. If you like meat, do your best to get good quality. And I know that for a lot of people, these “good quality” foods aren’t really an option. Whether it’s because of financial issues or even location problems, but I do think that everyone can find a way to adjust at least some of their food habits in a way that works for them.

Overall, I think we can all agree that reducing processed and refined foods are a good idea and sugar isn’t going to help you either. We all need to work with what we have but I would definitely encourage you to make your diet a priority to whatever extent you can.

2. Keep Moving

Exercise is just one of those things that keeps on giving. Regular physical activity can actually stimulate your immune system, improve its competency and reduce the likelihood of acquiring infections and other diseases such as cancer [1].

Unfortunately, many of us live quite stressful lives which can heavily impact our health. Living in a continuous state of stress can weaken the immune system. Particularly, depression can dampen your immunity [2]. While we can’t always eliminate the stress in our lives, we can definitely handle it in a smart way. Doing that workout that you have been putting off can reduce your stress hormones and give you a solid dose of endorphins [3]. This means that simply exercising can have a massively positive impact on your immune system.

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” – Mahatma Gandhi

3. Shut-eye

I’m sure we’ve all heard how important sleep is but when the pressure is on, it seems to be one of the first things that we compromise. I just want to remind you why you should prioritise it as much as you can. Your body actually releases and produces cytokines while you sleep [4] which help to fight inflammation as well as infections in the body. So it is pretty clear that getting enough sleep can put your immune system in a much better position to fend off colds and cases of flu.

Photograph by Kate Stone Matherson via Unsplash

4. When Sh*t Hits the Fan

So what happens when you completely f*** up all of the above? Don’t worry, I got you. Inevitably, there is going to be a patch where you slip up with one of the main things. Or maybe you did all of those right but it wasn’t enough and now you’ve started with a nasty cough and your nose is going crazy.

I genuinely think that the most important part of this situation is catching it early. Literally as soon as you start sneezing, before your throat even hurts, you need to jump on it. My approach to this may seem extreme to some people, or maybe it won’t, but it has really paid off.

When I start feeling any inklings of a cold or flu, it is like an immediate boot camp of absolutely no alcohol, sugar, dairy or wheat. If you’re already starting to feel symptoms, this is the time to rest, not exercise. I focus on eating really healthy food and getting lots of sleep. My favourite meals for this are broth-based meals with lots of garlic, ginger and some chilli.

Photograph by Youjeen Cho via Unsplash

As for what I take in terms of supplements, I load up on vitamin C and I grab some zinc. I take some wild oregano oil which is essentially a natural antibiotic.

In my back pocket, I also have some herbal tinctures that I basically swear by. The Phyto-Force brand is what I go for but I’m sure there are other brands that are just as good. I’m lucky enough to have a stash of tinctures so I take a large variety of them but they can be quite expensive. If you can only get a few, I’d say that the main ones are Olive Leaf, Cats Claw and Golden Seal. Just a warning: they taste disgusting. Bonus points if you have the stomach to sip on olive leaf tea.

If the tea is just too much, which it often is for me, I enjoy making a warm lemon and honey drink with some spices. I like to add ginger, turmeric and some cayenne pepper if I’m feeling bold. If my throat is really taking a hit, I also like to take some lozenges. My favourite is the Koflet made by the Himalaya brand.

Photograph from Phyto-Force.

Photograph from Solgar.

Product found at Faithful to Nature

So those are all the things that I do to stay healthy and dodge getting sick. Although I try my best to take a more natural route, I think it’s really important to know when you need real medication so just be aware of that. Obviously, what works for me might not work for you but it’s worth a try if you’re feeling adventurous.

I just also want to mention that if you’re taking this route of more natural methods to keep well, you really need to bring each aspect into the picture. Downing a whole pot of olive leaf tea and taking Vitamin C is probably not going to touch your cold if you’re still ordering pizza and barely sleeping. I’m not saying that it all has to be perfect but if you haven’t addressed the basics and then you try fending off colds with just herbal tinctures, you’re going to be disappointed with the result.

As much as I’ve tried to give information that is at least kind of backed up by sound research,  ultimately this is all based on my own experience. So if this is a world that you’re interested in, I hope I helped with giving you some ideas but at the end of the day, you should always do your own research and take what I say with a grain of salt. Keep healthy and stay strong <3

References

[1]J. Campbell and J. Turner, “Debunking the Myth of Exercise-Induced Immune Suppression: Redefining the Impact of Exercise on Immunological Health Across the Lifespan”, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2018. [Online]. Available: http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5911985/. [Accessed: 19- Mar- 2020].

[2]”Stress Weakens the Immune System”, American Psychological Association, 2006. [Online]. Available: https://www.apa.org/research/action/immune. [Accessed: 19- Mar- 2020].

[3]”Exercising to relax – Harvard Health”, Harvard Health, 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax. [Accessed: 19- Mar- 2020].

[4]”Boost Your Health with Better Sleep – National Sleep Foundation”, Sleepfoundation.org. [Online]. Available: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity. [Accessed: 19- Mar- 2020].

4 Comments

  1. Aideen

    This is definitely one of my favourite posts. Thank you for the products mentioned! 😍

    Reply
    • Katherine Pannell

      Thanks Aideen <3

      Reply
  2. Shante

    Absolutely agree with all of your points! I have not grown up with herbal medicine so have never tried that route but with regards to diet, exercise and sleep – I can definitely vouch for those! I try to stay away from medication, also opting for vitamin C but when I get really sick, I usually hit the doctor up. Maybe I’ll give some herbal stuff a try though 🙂 thanks for the info xx

    Reply
    • Katherine Pannell

      Yeah it’s really incredible how much of a difference just diet, exercise and sleep can make 🙂 xx

      Reply

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