Everyone knows the woes of a stuffy nose, fever, and sleepless nights, but there are many proven cold and flu remedies that are largely unknown. Up to twenty percent of the US will get the flu on average this year, and roughly 23,607 die from the flu each season.
Whether it’s for avoiding the discomfort of a twenty-four hour bug, or fighting a severe bout, consider these eight unexpected cold and flu remedies:
1. Pack in the Probiotics
Yogurt, miso soup and sourdough bread are great foods to start with on your road toward a more probiotic-rich diet. As the National Center for Biotechnology Information points out, probiotics are crucial for the body’s immune system, as they can help stimulate “good” bacteria, which wards off more threatening germs. If you’re not too into yogurt or miso, you can also load up on cultured vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi, or raw-unpasteurized cheese.
Also on Z Living: 9 Immune-System Boosting Foods From 'Recipe Rehab'
2. Crack a Window
New York City General Internist, Dr. Holly Phillips, MD, and author of The Exhaustion Breakthrough, explains that spending the day in a stuffy room with anyone who's under the weather is a quick way to expose yourself the common cold or flu. Phillips suggests opening a window, moving fresh air circulating throughout a room to keep airborne viral particles on the move, making them harder to plant themselves in you.
3. Eat Shiitake Mushrooms
A 2015 study conducted by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences found evidence that Shiitake mushrooms may boost immunity. The study found that people who ate a cooked shiitake mushroom daily for a month showed higher numbers of T cells, which are key components of the human immune system.
Also on Z Living: 8 Heart-Healthy Fall Ingredients for your Seasonal Menu
4. Pull Back on the Face Touching
Unless you’re washing your hands after every single time you use your phone or touch a doorknob, avoid touching your face. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases observed 249 people in public areas and subways in two cities. They found that the average person touches communal surfaces about three times an hour, and his or her own mouth or nose even more frequently. This obviously invites more foreign germs into the body, prime for catching a cold or flu.
5. Get Plenty of Rest
The Mayo Clinic points out, “Studies show that people who don't get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.” With this in mind, pack in the hours and make sure it’s quality sleep by curbing the pre-bed stress with a stretch, some relaxing essential oils or warm, non-caffeinated tea.
6. Flush Your Sinuses
When bad bacteria gets caught in the sinuses, sickness lingers. Dr. Richard Lebowitz, MD, an otolaryngologist at NYU Langone Medical Center suggests rinsing out the nose using a neti pot, an over-the-counter nasal irrigator, or saline solution. "It will help clear out viral particles you've breathed in during the day before they take root in your system," he says.
Also on Z Living: How To Enhance Mineral Absorption In Your Body
7. Ramp Up Your Zinc Intake
Zinc is a mineral crucial to the immune system. It’s actually needed for the body's defensive system to properly work. Zinc plays a core role in cell division, cell growth and wound healing. If you feel a cold coming on, Dr. Lebowitz suggests popping zinc lozenges as soon as possible. Additionally, you can score bountiful amounts of zinc by eating spinach, kidney beans, oysters, pumpkin seeds, and beef.
8. Try Elderberry Extract
Elderberry extract is a syrup or powder made from the berries of the elderberry plant. It has been used as an immune boosting supplement for centuries. As the University of Maryland Medical Center points out, “elderberry may help treat cold and flu symptoms by reducing congestion and possibly making you sweat more.” Additionally, a 2004 study published in the Journal of International Medical Research suggests that taking a 15-milliliter dose of elderberry extract four times a day can actually cut short flu symptoms by a whopping four days on average.
WATCH on Z Living: Change The Day You Die, where each week, one lucky person will get the chance to rewrite their future and start living a much healthier life. See a sneak peek here.
Tell us in the comments: How are you curbing the cold and flu season this year?