COLD & FLU: An Untold Story
Buckle up and get ready because I’m going to throw some truth bombs your way and it just might blow your mind. First off let’s get something straight, the cold & flu is NOT a season! Spring, summer, autumn, and winter are, and the fact is you can have a cold or flu in any season. The bugs are always there regardless of the season, but it’s not the bugs that cause us to get ill. Let me say that again, it’s not the bugs that cause us to get ill. The environment in our body is what allows the bugs to live (or die). Our immune system’s inability to properly respond and adapt is the real cause of illness. We have been taught that it’s the bugs, but the reality is, it’s our body. I think it’s time to have the “it’s not you, it’s me” talk with these intruders.
I know what you’re thinking, why do we mostly get sick in the colder seasons then? Are there more bugs in the colder seasons than the warm? Simple answer is no. Let me explain, our major eliminatory organs go through a period of repair in the spring and autumn. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Spring is the season of the liver. During this time, it goes through a process of regeneration and renewal. It’s the king of all organs doing 600 jobs every second. Every second! So, if you must cleanse do it in the spring, you’ll get much better results. In the Autumn our body is slowing down, getting ready to rest. It’s a time of regeneration once again but this time for the lungs and large intestines. The Winter is the time of the bladder and kidneys, one of the main ways we excrete toxins. During these specific times of year, these main eliminatory organs are working extra hard to excrete toxins. When it does, you may experience a runny nose, lots of mucus, coughing, sneezing, diarrhea, headaches, etc... Isn’t it interesting that the symptoms are similar to ones of the cold or flu? Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that we mostly get sick during these important seasons of renewal, when our body is naturally “detoxing”?
What Are Cold & Flu Anway?
Let’s define these often interchangeable terms: A cold refers to a common and short lived virus called rhinovirus, mainly affecting our upper respiratory system. Duration is 2-7 days and symptoms of runny nose, sinus congestion, red eyes, headache, sneezing, and sore throat start 2-3 days after exposure to the virus. The flu is the RNA virus and is more stubborn, more severe, and can be more serious. It also affects our upper respiratory system but lasts up to 2 weeks. Symptoms are chills, fever, muscle pain, weakness, fatigue, severe headache, and general discomfort. It takes 24 hours for symptoms to appear, and you’re most contagious from the 2nd day, up to one week after exposure. So you’ll definitely want to take a couple of days to rest for this one.
So now, how do we deal with it when we get it?
Suppressing Vs. Supporting
There are two ways to deal with a cold or flu (or any illness for that matter), one way, is suppressing symptoms. I call it “quick fix by OTC” - Over The Counter products that promise fast relief. Do suppressants help the immune system become stronger? Sadly the answer is no. Unfortunately, in this era of quick fixes and on-the-go-lifestyles, we have also created demand for fast superficial solutions. Quick fixes almost always weaken our immune system by suppressing, and drive bugs deeper into our body rather than out. When it’s time, your body will once again try to drain the unwanted material, and again you will experience the same symptoms, suppress the symptoms, and the cycle repeats. Suppressing prevents your immune system from developing resistance to a particular pathogen, and it can be dangerous when continued on a regular basis.
Approach number two is the opposite, it supports our health and immune system by draining the bugs and toxic stuff out through the organs we mentioned earlier, allowing our body to build immunity and become strong. This is a holistic approach by going deep to the root cause, which is the environment of our body, not the bugs! Remember. ;) When you walk into any pharmacy, there are plenty of options all promising fast relief, sleep-aid, pain relief, etc... This is all really great if it also helps support our immune system. So why are the options at the expense of our health? The truth is, it doesn’t have to be. The question to ask: Is this going to address the root cause or suppress my symptoms? Most symptoms are a sign that your immune system is doing its job, the last thing we want to do is stop this super important process! When you suppress you are preventing the body from self-healing and giving more power to the bugs. In order to truly heal, you must get rid of the blockages that are stopping your body from adapting, self-healing, and auto-regulating. Get to the root! Opt out from the band-aid approach.
I know, it totally sucks being sick and all you want is for it to go away fast by any means. I get it. The first step is to return the body to a state of self-healing. So how can we drain the toxic stuff while supporting our immune system? And can our eating habits help do this? The answer is an absolute YES! Keep reading...
How To Drain & Support
The best way to support your immune system and drain all the bad stuff out is to support your liver. When the unwanted material stays in the body too long, it causes blockages and burdens the liver even further, interrupting the liver’s efficiency. Among its many jobs, one of the most important jobs the liver has is being the most amazing filter ever! It works hard to drain toxic material and balance the actions of the digestive system, endocrine system, blood, and immune system. This marvellous organ is linked to almost every part of our body (and can even affect our emotions). This is why the liver is a key player in any illness, healing, and our health! Here are a few important foods to eat (and to NOT eat) to help support and drain your favourite organ (your liver!), and immune system.
Supporting Foods – Eat these foods to support and boost your eliminatory organs (liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymphatic system, and immune system):
Dark green leafy vegetables raw or lightly cooked (provides antioxidants and loads of much needed vitamins & minerals)
Dandelion greens (supports liver)
Garlic, Onions, Shallots, Leeks (antibacterial, high in polyphenols & flavanoids)
Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Brussel sprouts, Buk choi, Daikon, Kohlrabi, (full of Vit A, Vit C, & Vit K – anti-inflammatory & antioxidant)
Bone broth (best healing food EVER! Boil bones up to 24 hours with a small amount of apple cider vinegar)
Smoothy (with veggies and/or a green powder)
Elderberry syrup or tea – high in flavanoids (inhibits viruses from increasing)
Nettle, Milk Thistle, Dandelion Tea (major liver, kidney, lymph drainer & supporter)
Burdening Foods – One of the best ways to help your immune system is to stop eating foods that don’t support your health:
Dairy (causes inflammation)
Processed Sugar (feeds the bad bugs, suppresses immune system)
Processed foods (increases toxicity and overloads liver/immune system)
Alcohol (see all of the above)
Caffeine (negative effect on digestion, kidneys, liver)
Foods causing sensitivities or allergic reactions (burdens the liver & immune system)
Low quality/Trans Fats (depresses the immune system)
In today’s society we are always looking for immediate satisfaction and quick fixes. We are constantly taking on too much! This can cause a disconnect with our ‘selves’ and our body’s whisper (or scream) for help. You owe it to yourself to stop and listen! The body is extremely clever and as long as it is not suppressed it has the ability to detect viruses and viral infections, identify them, and create an inflammatory response which defends against these outsiders. Systems like the liver and other organs I mentioned help clear out the viruses and toxins. When stuff is coming out, it simply means our immune system is working and getting stronger. Instead of suppressing this process, we must work with our body and in turn this team work will automatically lessen the duration of the illness. If you are alive, living and functioning in this society right now, your body is inevitably stressed and it needs support rather than the burden of constantly being suppressed. This is why drainage is so important, and the next time you get sick, remember that your body is eliminating, and should you choose to take something for it, choose a method that will support your body.