Feel A Cold Coming On? Do These 6 Things To Prevent It!

You know when you feel that little tingle in the back of your throat? The kind when you think to yourself “crap that’s not good”. Well that was me last week. My little niece had the sniffles but that really means nothing in regards to social distancing when you’re an obsessed aunt.

A few days later I felt that itchy post-nasal drip tingle and I immediately shifted into prevent mode (my wedding is in less than 3 weeks – I don’t have time for that nonsense!). In the past, starting my prevention regimen immediately after recognizing the first sign has enabled me, at minimum, to reduce the duration and severity of the symptoms or completely prevent the cold altogether. This particular time I had a bit of a runny nose for 2 days then it was dunzo! Pretty awesome right?

Here’s what I did

  1. Cut out absolutely ALL forms of processed and added sugar. Sugar can suppress the immune system and cause inflammation in the body. Just a small amount of sugar can suppress your immunity for up to 6 hours! Sugar is also void of any nutritional value, leaving our body with the extra work of metabolizing it without any benefit in return.
  2. Take a mega-dose of vitamin D. Multiple studies have shown that people with lower vitamin D levels are more susceptible to colds and flu so ensuring adequate levels year-round is an overall great prevention measure. Vitamin D helps regulate our immune response and stimulates it, when needed, to protect against viral and bacterial infections. Refer to this article where Dr. Thorburg explains appropriate dosing to start within 24-36 hours of onset of first symptoms.
  3. Use 4-5 sprays of Beekeeper’s Naturals Propolis Throat Spray. Bee propolis has natural germ fighting properties, is loaded in antioxidants, and 300+ beneficial compounds. I used this twice per day (morning and night) to soothe my scratchy throat and provide natural immune support.
  4. Eat all the immune-boosting foods. Berries, mushrooms, ginger, turmeric, garlic and onions, bone broth, greens and coconut oil are all excellent anti-inflammatory foods. Onions, garlic and coconut oil even provide anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties! Aim to eat at least 1-2 of these foods at each meal.
  5. Optimize your beverages. I love to start the day off with a cup of water with lemon, local raw honey and – since I’m growing it this year – sage. Sage is valued for its immune-boosting properties. It has antiseptic and antiviral properties, and can help break down mucus associated with colds or the flu.
  6. Take a spoonful (or 2) of elderberry syrup. This has been gaining popularity over the years as a natural way to prevent or shorten the duration of colds and the flu. According to Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, of Hadassah-Hebrew University in Israel, elderberry disarms the enzyme viruses use to penetrate healthy cells in the lining of the nose and throat. When purchasing from the store, check the ingredients to ensure there are no additives or fillers. I prefer to make it on my own — not only do I save A LOT of money, but I am able to fully customize the ingredients. I like to use this recipe.

Do you catch colds often? What do you do to prevent/recover from them quicker? Share below!

Got a Sweet Tooth?

If your holiday and end of year celebrations were anything like mine, they were probably overloaded with candies, cakes, your aunt’s delicious cookies, endless vino, and so forth. By the time New Year comes around I am exhausted, bloated, and feeling something like this:

This inspired me to complete 30 days of no sugar, no booze, no excuses. Since I started this past Monday, January 6, I have already lost count of the number of times I have been asked “….why?” Sugar has become so mainstream in our diet it has actually changed, for many, the ability to appreciate unsweetened foods. A perfect example of this is peanut butter. Many brands are loaded with high fructose corn syrup or cane sugar, and when individuals try clean, raw peanut butter with no additional ingredients, it tastes off. Sugar lights up the reward centers in our brain, similar as to cocaine for an addict. After going a period of time without it, as the body stars to rebalance, you start to crave them all over again.

Sugar is also a tremendous contributor to blood sugar dysregulation (another cause of sugar cravings). According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2015, an estimated 33.9% of US adults 18 years or older had prediabetes along with 48.3% of adults age 65 or older. An additional 9.4% (30.3 million) of the population has actual diabetes. My family has not been an exception, so preventative measures early on have been a priority of mine!

Chronically elevated blood sugar (BS) levels result in inflammation as high BS is damaging to our nerves and small blood vessels. High intake of refined sugar also results in the formation of AGEs, or advanced glycation end products, which are destructive molecules that trigger inflammation. Inflammation is thought to be the underlying cause of many chronic diseases.

If I have not yet convinced you that sugar is evil, this study demonstrated that ingestion of sugar can alter the function of phagocytes (cells that ingest harmful bacteria, particles and dead cells) for at least 5 hours. In other words, after eating a piece of chocolate cake, your immune system will become suppressed, leaving you more susceptible to catching a cold or flu. Not ideal this time of the year.

There are several steps I took to prepare for this little endeavor:

  1. Recruit a support system. Maintaining any type of lifestyle change is not only easier but can even be fun when you have a team that supports you, or even better, will do it with you! Two of my sisters and my fiancé have agreed to participate. This has been a gamechanger in maintaining my motivation.
  2. Prepare. Don’t start immediately. I took a couple days to get rid of any leftover holiday goodies and meal prep for the week ahead. My sisters also took time to read food labels and clear out any foods that would not be acceptable to avoid temptation. We also discussed healthy, sugar-free alternatives.
  3. Make specific goals. I wrote out a list of guidelines and ingredients that were to be avoided for the next 30 days including: all added sugar, artificial sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, agave nectar, cane juice, caramel, barley malt, and glucose to name a few.
  4. DO NOT say “I will try”. This is one phrase I always make a point to avoid saying, otherwise I might as well not waste my time. It indirectly gives me permission to fail, which I do not want as an option.

What healthy habits have you committed to this year? If you are interested in trying 30 days No Sugar. No Booze. No Excuses. the guidelines are as follows:

30 DAys no sugar. no booze. no excuses. guidelines

  1. No sugar or hidden sources of sugar (refer to chart below)
    • Beware of foods such a bread, peanut butter, ketchup, dried fruit, chips, milk alternatives, and pasta sauce that could unexpectedly have some form of added sugar (TIP: if it has a barcode, check the ingredients)
  2. No honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, maple syrup or any other “healthy” form of sugar
  3. No alcohol (wine, liquor, beer, etc).
  4. Approved:
    • Fruit (beware of sugar added to store-bought smoothies or açaí bowls). Ideally no more that 2-3 servings per day. Berries are best as they are lower in sugar.
    • Stevia or monk fruit (0 calorie natural sweeteners) in small amounts