So You've Caught a Cold. Now What?

Common cold

November 07, 2017

When a cold strikes, follow these natural cold remedies from experts at The University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City

As temperatures dip and we spend more time indoors with other people, we're more likely to catch something from them.

Colds spread from person to person through a cough or sneeze, or when you touch a surface with a cold virus on it and then put your hands near your eyes, nose or mouth.

The best weapon against a cold is not getting one in the first place. Good nutrition, sleep, washing your hands and cleaning surfaces you touch, like phones and keyboards, are all good prevention habits.

But if you do get sick – and you're dealing with a cough, stuffy nose, sore throat, headache or a host of other symptoms – some good strategies can help get you through it.

Leigh Wagner, PhD, formerly of the integrative medicine team at The University of Kansas Health System, said being sick isn't a time to skimp on sleep. Sleep is essential for your immune system to work properly and help you recover.

Your body also needs to be hydrated. Wagner recommends water or tea. Warm tea can soothe a sore throat and help break up some congestion. Broths and soups are also good bets, especially if you can add some vegetables to them.

You may not feel hungry, especially if your throat is sore, but your body needs energy to fight the cold. Wagner recommends eating plant-based foods that are rich in nutrients.

"You're probably not going to be in the mood for a salad, so consider something cooked," she said.

Wagner said your body will need plenty of protein, which helps strengthen your immune system and is available in a lot of foods, including lean chicken, turkey, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds. There's also plenty of it in bone broths.

"Make sure you're getting enough vitamin D, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin C," Wagner said.

Vitamin C is known for properties that help the immune system and has been shown to shorten the duration of colds. Wagner said people often remember to get more vitamin C when they're sick, but they don't get the right amounts of zinc and the other vitamins. Beef, chicken, pork, shellfish, spinach, pumpkin seeds, nuts and beans are all good sources of zinc.

The University of Kansas Health System integrative medicine team can help guide you toward a healthy lifestyle. Call 913-588-6208 to make an appointment.

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