If you live in the southern hemisphere it’s that time of year when the temperatures drop and winter coats find their way out from the back of your closet and onto your body, and if you’ve ever had a cold then you’d be familiar with the healthy dose of remedial advice that gets served up after coughing.
Both colds and flu are caused by viruses, and according to some it’s the body’s way of expelling old and damaged cells. Expect a runny nose, some congestion and even a cough with a cold, but if you develop a fever chances are you’re also getting the flu.
This Starts at 60 staffer recently endured an insufferable few days with a head cold and was promptly advised by close friends and relatives to ‘drink plenty of fluids’, ‘get lots of rest’, and ‘have a hot lemon drink with honey’ and ‘ eat raw garlic or ginger’. Is there any truth to those old wives’ tales we’re so quick to try? Let’s put them to the test.
It’s true. Chicken soup is actually good for your body when you are sick. The salty broth created with lots of vegetables helps thin mucous and can help reduce inflammation in the throat, and the protein from the chicken helps you produce disease-fighting antibodies. The steam can also help loosen the congestion in your nose.
Garlic and ginger
Both garlic and ginger are potent relievers of cold and flu. Raw garlic can be a helpful way of warding off common colds and flu, but if you’re taking a blood thinners garlic can increase your risk of bleeding. While garlic can boost your ability to ward off infection, ginger tackles any nausea you might be experiencing. You can add both to your soup, or put a little ginger in with your hot lemon drink with honey.
Lemon and honey
This one has become a ‘go to’ treatment the minute we feel a tickle coming on in our throats and there’s a good reason. When you’re feeling a bit out of sorts with a cold or the flu, drinking plenty of liquid ensure you stay hydrated. Perhaps it’s the warmth of the liquid (chicken soup, anyone?) but a hot lemon drink with a dash of honey had this Starts at 60 staffer feeling relieved. Being a citrus fruit, a dash of lemon in a cup of hot water adds a little vitamin C, while honey if rich in antioxidants and be added to the drink to help soothe a sore throat. Honey also works as a cough suppressant so pop a teaspoon of the stuff in your mouth and allow it to make its way down the back of your throat if you need a bit of relief.
Get lots of rest and a little exercise
It might be difficult to get decent rest, especially if you have a blocked nose and sore throat, but lots of rest is what your body needs when it’s fighting a cold or flu. The rest allows your body to focus all of its attention on fighting the infection. If you are having trouble with sleep, try raising your back with extra pillows so that you’re not lying flat, which might help with draining any congestion in your nose.
A cold or flu doesn’t have to stop your exercise regime in its tracks either, and according to personal trainer Andrew Cate if your symptoms are from the neck up then physical activity won’t slow your recovery. Just be careful not to raise your heart rate or your body temperature too much.
There might not be any medical or scientific proof that any of these home grown remedies work, but they did make this staffer feel a lot better a lot quicker.