Ask Dr. Ernst: Get Rid of That Pesky Cold

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Dr. Aaron
by Dr. Aaron Ernst, D.C. D.PSc.

It’s happening! Christmas is almost here, there are a million things to do and your little one comes home with a runny nose, red cheeks and a nasty cough.

There’s nothing quite like the horror of seeing that beloved little disease carrier and knowing you are most certainly next.

Plus, the holidays, for all the joy and brotherly love, is a tough time for our mental and physical health. For example, there’s a 5 percent increase in heart-related deaths around the holidays, and they spike on Christmas Day. Depression and instances of emergency psychiatric care also increase during the holidays, particularly among women and senior citizens.

It all seems pretty heavy for a discussion of the common cold, but you never know what straw is going to break the camel’s back. Having your health intact goes a long way in your general mental and physical resilience.

In large part, colds are just an unfortunate and inconvenient reality of life. Despite sending people to the moon, making communication to nearly anywhere in the world instant and free, and the multitude of medical miracles to which we have access, humanity still hasn’t figured out how to knock out that pesky cold.

BUT, there are ways to make it quicker and easier. We’re going to skip everything you probably already know (wash your hands frequently, get a lot of rest, drink a lot of fluids, etc.) and talk about some lesser-known methods of fighting a cold. So let’s get down to business.

A quick note on prevention: One thing you might not consider is that disease is often a reaction to stress. Stress weakens you. Take some time for yourself. Do things you enjoy. Meditate. Sit somewhere and think. Use your vacation time. Get exercise. You’ll still get colds from time to time, but you’ll reduce their frequency and intensity. And if you’re not feeling sick, but you notice your family members are falling down one after the other like dominos, hit the Zinc hard. It creates an inhospitable environment for viruses. That’s the logic behind such popular products as “Airborn.” But in reality, any Zinc lozenge will do.

Sugar: your worst enemy

When you’ve got a cold, it’s best to reduce how much you eat in general, first of all. But at all costs, do not eat any sugar! It’s a germ’s favorite food. It gives them fuel to reproduce and wreak havoc in your body. A Columbia University study reported that 100g of sugar (as much as is in a liter of soda) reduces the effectiveness of your white blood cells by 40 percent. Sugar sucks the Vitamin C out of your system. And white blood cells (the ones that fight germs) need that Vitamin C to function.

Also consider your neuroimmune system. It’s a highly complex set of interactions between the immune system and your brain, spine and nerves. Nerves carry the messages to all of your systems, whether it’s to signal inflammation, make more disease-fighting agents or begin the process of healing and regeneration. That’s why it’s important to eat foods that support your immune system, nerves, brain and spine.

What should I eat?

First of all, eat more than your usual amount of probiotics, particularly fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir. Your gut bacteria tend to deplete as your body attacks every germ that gets in its path.

For immune and neurological health, eat these foods:

  • Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, collard greens, etc.
  • Proteins with plenty of Vitamin B including grass-fed beef or lamb, farm-raised chicken, organic eggs, etc.
  • Almonds and walnuts are some of the better options as they contain high levels of antioxidants.
  • Garlic is a powerful antiviral and antibiotic and it’s full of antioxidants.
  • Always wild-caught. Fish contains essential Omega-3 fatty acids that are vital for immunity, nerve health and your well-being in general. Salmon is good, as are herrings and sardines.
  • Berries are loaded with antioxidants and Vitamin C. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are all fantastic for immunity.
  • Honey is not only delicious, it fights both viral and bacterial infections.
  • Ginger is also a great ingredient for fighting viral and bacterial infections.

Attack the symptoms

Overall health is the goal, but of course you just want to feel better.

The list of teas that will assist you in your cold recovery is long and delicious. Here are some choice cold remedy teas:

  • Lemon tea (or just hot water with lemon)
  • Licorice tea (it’s great for a sore throat)
  • Ginger tea (it fights infection)
  • Sage tea (it helps break up and get rid of mucus)
  • Elderberry tea (it’s got a lot of Vitamin C)
  • Astragalus tea (it’s a powerful antiviral)
  • Echinacea tea (it helps clear your air passageways)

Don’t let cold season put a damper in your plans this year. Keep your general health at a high level and you’ll be doing a lot to keep germs at bay. But if you follow the tips above, your immune and neurological health will make you as close to immune to this scourge as humanly possible.

If you want to learn more about what will help you prevent and fight colds and the flu, download the free eBook, “21 Natural Flu Shots,” below.

Oh, and Happy Holidays!

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