This is an appropriate post for today, as we are experiencing one of our coldest days this fall here in Ottawa. The change of season is a common time for people to get a cold or flu as the body is under extra stress from the outside environment. In today’s blog I will cover natural ways to reduce your risk of colds/flus and how to get feeling better quickly if you are under the weather. While these tips are directed at pregnant women, many of them apply to the whole family.
One of the things many women don’t think about before they are pregnant is, what they are going to do when they get any number of their “normal” complaints, colds, flus, headaches, allergies etc. I am calling them “normal” because it is not normal to be getting multiple colds and flus anytime and indicates that your immune system could use some TLC. Don’t worry, I will cover ways you can work to support your immune system today. When you are pregnant, you can’t simply reach for your favorite over the counter medication, which leaves many people feeling stranded and desperate. Pregnancy is a time when you are forced to look for alternatives and you may be pleasantly surprised with what you find!
As always, the best medicine is prevention and this is no different when it comes to colds and flus.
Top 5 Ways to Prevent Colds and Flus While Pregnant
- Hand Washing- This should be a no-brainer as it has been hammered home since childhood. Reducing the amount of bacteria/viruses on your hands, reduces your risk of becoming sick. Do not use antibacterial soaps. A natural, castile based soap and water, washing for 20 seconds is just as effective.
- Reduce Stress- Stress is well known to lower your immune response, making you more susceptible to colds and flus. Incorporate deep belly breathing, 10 breaths 3 times a day into your day. You can also use pregnancy as a time to start delegating tasks and lightening your load before baby arrives.
- Sleep- Similarly to stress, lack of sleep lowers the immune system. You may have read on my blog post on adrenals that the most restorative sleep happens between 10 pm and midnight. Aiming to be sleep by 10 pm helps to support your immune system.
- Fruits and Vegetables- Yes fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C, which can help reduce the duration of colds and flus, but they contain phytochemicals beyond just their vitamin and mineral content that can help keep you healthy. Soups and smoothies are a good way to get plenty of fruits and vegetables into the diet.
- Vitamin D- Not only does it reduce your baby’s risk of eczema and food sensitivities, it has been shown to help keep your immune system functioning optimally
Top 5 Ways to Naturally Manage Colds and Flus
- Reduce Your Sugar Intake- Sugar substantially reduces the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria and viruses. At the first sign of illness, take a sugar hiatus
- Probiotics- Probiotics have been shown to boost your body’s white blood cell response to invaders. Probiotics can also help reduce your risk of yeast infections
- Garlic and Ginger- Both have antibacterial and antiviral properties. Add raw garlic to your food, and make yourself a ginger tea. Ginger tea can also help with nausea
- Honey and Onions- You are going to smell great! Just kidding, the onions actually don’t smell as they are masked by the honey. Take raw honey, preferably one from a farmer’s market so that it is local to you, and cut up a white onion. Cover the onion with honey and keep in the fridge. You can take a tablespoon of this mixture over the course of the day up to 5 times. Both onions and honey have antibacterial and antiviral properties. This is helpful for sore throats as well. Raw honey is safe for use during pregnancy, as adults have the bacteria in their intestine to neutralize the botulism toxin. Raw honey is not safe for infants under 1, as their bacteria are not mature
- Echinacea- Can help to reduce the duration of colds/flus when taken immediately at the first sign of symptoms. Research on Echinacea has not shown any adverse effects during pregnancy, but the research is still limited. Motherisk is a great resource for what is safe during pregnancy.
As always, it is a good idea to talk to your health care practitioner if you have any questions or concerns about what is safe to take when you are pregnant.
You may have noticed that I have left vitamin C off of the list. Vitamin C in the amount you would get from food or from a prenatal vitamin has been shown to be safe. At higher levels (2000-3000 mg) there have been studies that show it can increase the risk of premature rupture of the membranes. Other studies have not shown this correlation. Until the research is more definitive it is a good idea to avoid high dose vitamin C during pregnancy.
Did you have a cold or flu when you were pregnant? How did you manage?
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