What to Do If You Catch the Flu

So, you’ve caught the flu. Now what? You don’t have motivation for anything other than moving from the bed to the sofa and back to the bed again. You’re tired, achy, and just overall miserable. Well, I can’t give you the magic recipe that can cure you, I can let you know how I’ve survived this very thing.

Hopefully, you’ve been taking fairly good care of yourself and now it’s just a matter of getting this bug out of your system. Sadly, it has to run its course. Although, I’ve found, when I’ve approached the flu in this way, my symptoms are mild and I’m able to kick it quickly. This is saying a lot for someone who was born with a weak immune system and who doesn’t have her tonsils (a discussion for another article on immunity).

Keep in mind, I’m not a doctor or a healthcare provider. This article is for informational purposes only and you should always discuss any treatments with your licensed medical provider.

Change Your Mind

The first thing I like to do in any situation that’s less than ideal is find the positive space. You will get through this. It’s easy to head to negative town and travel down the deep dark spiral of woe. Don’t go there. It’s been scientifically document that medical patients who use prayer, meditation, or positive thinking techniques tend to present less negative symptoms and recover faster. Don’t take my word for it; you can check it out yourself on Google Scholar.

The latest idea regarding this is that everything in the universe functions on an energy frequency. Think of it as different radio stations. If you tune into the negative space radio station, that’s the energy field you’re going to be receiving. Inversely, if you tune into positive space radio station, that’s what you’ll attract. The idea is that you can attract healing energy if you change you’re mind to that frequency. Crazy, I know, but it has worked for me. Let me know if you try it and how you thought it worked.

Garlic

fresh garlic

Aside from positive thinking some real world tricks can help too. Garlic is such an amazing bulb. Growing up my mother would always prescribe, for any ailment, ‘take a clove of garlic, you’ll be fine’. We became so used to it as children that we’d chew whole cloves and never blink an eyelash about it. I wouldn’t recommend this, as it can cause extreme nausea and vomiting if you’re not accustomed to it, but she wasn’t wrong for recommending it for most ailments.

Garlic has so many benefits some being noted are its antimicrobial activity, anticancer activity, antioxidant activity, ability to reduce cardiovascular diseases, improving immune functions, and anti-diabetic activity. That’s a lot of work coming from one little clove.

One way garlic helps immunity and flu systems is by boosting the bodies t-cell function and proliferation. A T cell is a type of lymphocyte, which develops in the thymus gland (hence the name) and plays a central role in the immune response. Specific T cells role is to control and shape the bodies immune response by providing a variety of immune-related functions. There are special CD8+ T cells, also known as “killer cells”, which are cytotoxic – this means that they are able to directly kill virus-infected cells as well as cancer cells. 

That’s a lot of science, I know, but stay with me. The important thing to take away is that garlic is good for your bodies ability to fight a cold or flu. You don’t need to chew whole raw cloves, but it is best to consume raw or raw aged garlic. Just add it minced to your favorite salad or meal.

Keep in mind that garlic does have blood pressure lowering effects. If you have abnormally low blood pressure, start slow on the garlic. It can cause blood pressure to drop resulting in dizziness or fainting.

Vitamin C aka Ascorbic Acid

In addition to garlic, there is another flu fighting trick you can use; vitamin C. Now, before we get into vitamin C don’t confuse sodium ascorbic with ascorbic acid. Sodium ascorbic, which is also vitamin C has contains 11% sodium. This holds the vitamin C in your system longer. While this might seem like a good thing, just trust me that you want to consume the good old ascorbic acid variety. The only time I would recommend sodium ascorbic is if you have acid reflux or another problems related to acid consumption.

There is a lot of common sense historical data as to why vitamin C helps remedy the common cold and most flu symptoms, but recently there has been a push to get more concrete data to support this reasoning. There is a great article here, Combined Inhalational and Oral Supplementation of Ascorbic Acid May Prevent Influenza Pandemic Emergency: A hypothesis. We are only scratching the surface in regards or Vitamin C research, but it looks extremely promising.

I’ve not had to take vitamin C supplements because I’ve not had the flu in, well, I actually can’t remember how long it’s been, but it’s been a very long time. If I did, I’d load up on vitamin C rich foods like blueberries, chili peppers, and parsley. The reality is that a lot of fruits and veggies are high in vitamin C. So, eat a lot of these and you’ll be far exceeding your daily limits, which is what you need when you’re fighting a cold or flu.

If you want, you can also take an ascorbic acid supplement. Just be sure to only take it for the duration you need to get through your cold. Even good things when taken in excess can become harmful to your system. The best and safest approach is to get your nutrients from whole food sources.

Hydrate

Point of view shot of a man pouring a glass of fresh water from a kitchen faucet

Garlic and vitamin C are great additions to helping fight the flu, but they do you no good unless you are hydrating. I don’t think I need to tell you how good water is for you, especially when you have the flu, but for the sake of thoroughness, I will mention it; hydrate. Water is one of the most important tools in purging toxins from your body and keeping your immunity functioning at optimal levels.

Aside from supporting your immune system, when you have the flu, dehydration is a very real issue. Whether it be through vomiting, diarrhea, or just sleeping so much that you’re not intaking as many fluids, dehydration is prevalent during the flu. Don’t fall victim to it and make sure you’re drinking water, regularly, throughout the day.

Rest

In addition to having a good mindset, consuming immune building foods and drinking lots of water, it’s important to rest. Sleep as much as you possibly can. The body is working it’s best to fight off invaders and repair itself when it’s at rest. So, go ahead, be couch potato!

Remember Your Mama’s Words

The last thing I would do when fighting a cold or flu is to remember what my mother always said. This is a phrase that I’m guessing has been passed down from mothers to children since the beginning of time. I’ve not heard of anyone who doesn’t know it. It’s “Feed a cold, starve a fever.” The idea is, if you have a cold you want to consume lots of healthy foods to build your immune system. When you have a fever you want to starve the virus and cleanse your system. Also known as water fasting.

So, if or when a fever hits, drop all foods and drink lots of water. Clear broths and soups are wonderful for this too. My Immunity Soup recipe would be a great soup to eat before a fever hits, and the broth would be fantastic for if you get a fever. Good nutrition is extremely important in overcoming the flu. Give your body the tools it needs to fight.

Remember the Benefits of a Fever

If you do get a fever, keep in mind that a fever is your bodies way or killing viruses. Most viruses cannot survive high temperatures. The human body has adapted to this fact and survived by developing the fever response. The more time the fever has to work the better chance you have of the virus dying and preventing a relapse from occurring.

I know it’s tempting to bring a fever down right away, but I always try and let it be as long as possible. In doing so I also make sure to flush a lot of water through my system. I find the fever breaks on its own. That being said, this is an area only you and your doctor can make a judgement call about. Every body has a different tolerance level and every age has different ranges of acceptable fever levels.

A fever, while beneficial, is also dangerous. If the body is too weak, immunity too low, or if a person has had seizures in their history, the level and intensity of a fever that an individual can tolerate is drastically different. Again, only you and your doctor can make a judgement in this area. I always recommend, it’s better to consume a synthetic drug or immuno-supressant such as Tylenol than it is to cause permanent damage or death.

To Close

Getting the flu is not fun and some people are more susceptible than others. When you feel flu symptoms coming on, stay at home to prevent the spread, wash your hands thoroughly, and take time to repair and heal your body. Your body is a magnificent machine that really does self repair when given the right tools. Give it the right tools and you’ll be back on your feet in no time.

If you’re reading this and you have the flu, imagine I’m sending you a big hug. You will get through it because you are strong, resilient, and most importantly, you maintain a positive mindset.

One Response to “What to Do If You Catch the Flu