5 Home Remedies for Colds and Flu

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It’s that time of year again. Here, how to keep bugs at bay and minimize symptoms of cold and flu – plus, an easy flu-busting recipe!

 Tis the season. Colds and flu seem to be lurking around every corner, yet there are things you can do to help protect yourself and to remedy the symptoms if you can’t escape them.

Here’s how Julie Daniluk, a registered nutritionist, health educator and best-selling author, suggests keeping bugs at bay.

1) The minute you feel a cold coming on rinse out your sinuses

This helps to flush out the virus invaders and reduce your risk of the infection settling in, says Julie. You can use the centuries-old Neti Pot, which looks something like a teapot and serves to flush out the nasal passages with a salt water solution you mix yourself. (But it’s very important to follow the instructions and use only distilled or sterilized water, not tap water.)

Alternatively, you can buy pre-mixed, pre-loaded saline nasal sprays at the drugstore, which Julie says have about the same salt-to-water ratio as your own tears. But even if you don’t manage to ward off that bug, rinsing out your sinuses can help to reduce the mucous and stuffy nose that always seem to accompany a cold.

2) Gargle with unpasteurized honey

Any non-pasteurized Canadian wildflower honey will do, but if you want one with a super powerful punch, Julie recommends Manuca honey from New Zealand, which is known for its high concentration of anti-bacterial elements. But all unpasteurized honeys, she says, contain hydrogen peroxide which helps to kill off microbes in your throat.

“There’s real science behind that,” she says. Julie recommends making a gargle solution out of warm water, not boiling, and dissolving a teaspoon of honey in it. Alternatively, you can drink ginger tea with lemon and honey, but let it cool down a bit before you add the honey so you preserve its active ingredients. You can also dissolve half a teaspoon of unpasteurized honey in your mouth, just like you would a lozenge.

3) Dig into that “ever-loving garlic”

“Raw garlic is so, so strong,” says Julie. The active ingredient in raw garlic is allicin and it’s known to have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, which she says “are especially great for lung infections.”

But make sure you eat it raw since its power is diminished in the cooking process. You can use this powerful nutraceutical in pesto, salad dressings and salsa.

4) Eat mushrooms

Certain mushrooms, like Shiitake, are very good for preventing colds and flu, Julie says, and are especially easy to add to soups. (Her recipe for Shiitake soup is posted at the end of this article.)

5) Stay super hydrated

“Viruses love dry sinuses, plus our whole immune system runs on fluid,” says Julie. “So if you suspect you’re getting a cold, make some tea right away and drink at least 10 cups throughout the day.”

And avoid alcohol, which has high sugar content and is dehydrating. “White sugars have been shown to slow the white blood cells response to infection,” Julie says. (Sorry, but those Hot Rum Toddies you always thought were good for a cold are not on her list.)

So does Julie ever get sick herself?

Not much, she says. “The only thing that takes me down is missing sleep, then getting on a plane. Planes are so dry and crowded. You’ve got all those people coughing in a tiny little cabin. I always advise people to power hydrate during their entire flight. After clearing security, buy one of those huge water bottles and make sure you drink the whole thing. That little half a cup of fluid they give you on board just doesn’t cut it.”

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Julie Daniluk’s Shiitake Mushroom Soup 

8 cups (2 L) vegetable broth
6 cups (1.5 L) cauliflower, chopped
6 cups (1.5 L) shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) pink rock or grey sea salt
1 tbsp (15 mL) apple cider vinegar
2 cups (500 mL) onions, chopped

1. Place all ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce and cook for 20 minutes.
2. When finished, puree with immersion blender until smooth.
3. Serve warm, with a drizzle of pesto.

Makes 12 servings