Chills, fever, body aches, fatigue…you’re coming down with a cold or the flu, despite your very best efforts to keep yourself well.
So what do you do?
The most important thing you can do once you’re exposed to an illness is to hydrate. Hydration is key if you want to prevent the illness from becoming more severe – it helps your body flush out any unwanted toxins and enables the lymphatic system to work more efficiently.
It’s not enough to just drink water, however. Since we naturally dehydrate when we’re sick, it’s important to make sure that you are also replenishing your electrolytes.
Electrolytes are substances that become ions in a solution and are able to conduct electricity. They’re present throughout your body and essential for normal functioning of all cells and organs – they help maintain the ph balance of your body and assist with critical functions like heartbeat rhythms. The main types of electrolytes found in the body are calcium, sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, and bicarbonate, but potassium, sodium, and chloride ions are considered the most important when it comes to hydration.
If you’re feeling sick, I recommend drinking spring water since it is high in natural minerals and using a natural electrolyte power, like Ultima Replenish, instead of consuming sugary sports drinks – add the electrolyte powder to your water up to three times a day. Alternatively, you can visit your naturopath or other holistic practitioner for a hydrating saline infusion.
2. Gentle fasting
The second thing you can do to support your body when you start to feel sick is gentle fasting. Fasting limits the supply of nutrients, such as iron and zinc, that the infecting agent needs to grow and spread, and allows you to heal faster. During this time, consume minimal amounts of animal protein and eliminate sugar, dairy, gluten, spicy foods, coffee, and chocolate. Nourish yourself with bone broth, chicken noodle soup, and tea – hot tea with lemon and ginger is one that I recommend most often.
While you’re fasting, allow yourself to rest and get plenty of sleep.
It sounds obvious, but I often see patients who are attempting to push through – working full-time and engaging in life in the same way that they would if they were well – but resting is essential when you are recovering from an illness and sleep is essential for immune system function. During sleep, we create white blood cells, which increases our ability to fight infection.
Your body naturally feels more fatigued when you’re sick – it’s asking for and needing rest. Honor that.
4. Wet sock therapy
The fourth thing that I recommend when you start to feel sick is wet sock therapy, a simple hydrotherapy technique that is especially effective for relieving nasal congestion. All you need are a pair of wool and cotton socks and water.
Before bed, put your feet in hot water for 3 minutes – the water should be as hot as you can handle without burning your skin. Wet a pair of thin cotton socks in cold water, wring them out well and put them on immediately after you take your feet out of the hot water. Put a pair of heavy wool socks over the cotton socks. Sleep with the socks on – they will be dry when you wake.
The alternating of hot and cold creates a pumping mechanism that stimulates your circulation and lymphatics, resulting in a more active immune system, increased white blood cell production, and decreased congestion.
Your body knows how to heal itself naturally, you just have to support it.