It’s definitely cold and flu season. I don’t know about you, but this past week, I ran across so many people who were either flat on their back in bed or they were still recovering from being sick a couple weeks ago. Whatever the case may be, protecting yourself and boosting your immunity is definitely the name of the game this time of year.
According to the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, this flu season is on track to be as bad as the 2017-2018 flu season which apparently was one of the worst in recent decades. That being said, the flu season can be very unpredictable and, with any luck, we have reached our peak and the number of cases will start to decline. Keep your fingers crossed!!
This season’s dominant flu strain is influenza B. Compared to influenza A, influenza B doesn’t change much from year to year so many adults have a built in immunity from infections earlier in life. However, young children are much more susceptible to influenza B because they have not built up a strong immunity.
When it comes to germs this time of year, there are three main types you may encounter. Here’s what you need to know about each one:
Influenza virus: This bug causes the flu. The flu virus can live for an hour in the air and up to nine hours on hard surfaces like cell phones, desks, and door handles. It spreads through the air from all those people who don’t cover their face when they cough or sneeze (ugh!) and also spreads through bodily contact like a handshake. Once exposed, most people will start to feel sick within one to four days. It’s interesting to note that you can be contagious a day or two before you start showing symptoms which is why the flu can spread so rapidly.
Rhinovirus: This is the common cold. The rhinovirus can live up to 24 hours on hard surfaces and is typically spread through direct contact with an infected person (hug or a handshake) or exposure to the germ from someone sneezing, coughing or even talking to you. Once you have been exposed to the rhinovirus, it can take one to three days for symptoms to appear.
Norovirus: This is the stomach flu. The norovirus is actually the most hardy of them all….it can last up to several weeks on hard surfaces!! The worst part about the norovirus is how it is spread. This part gets a little graphic so be prepared. The norovirus is spread through micro particles of poop finding it’s way into your mouth. I told you it was graphic!! If you’re wondering how in the world this can happen, it’s easier than you think. If someone with contaminated hands (yes, that means tiny particles of poop on their hands) prepares your food or they touch your silverware, it’s likely there are micro particles of poop left behind. When you eat the food off of the contaminated silverware…..well, you get the picture. Symptoms of the stomach flu can show up within 12 hours.
Now that we know what germs we are dealing with, how can we protect ourselves? I think it goes without saying that washing your hands is going to be your first line of defense. They say you should wash your hands for as long as it takes you to sing Happy Birthday twice! I tried this and it seemed like an eternity! I found myself singing super fast the second time around!
If you are not able to wash your hands after touching an infected surface, DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE! Germs love your eyes, nose and mouth and that’s how you become infected. The eyes are the most vulnerable when it comes to germs. They say the eyes are the window to your soul but they are also an open door for all those germs!
Keeping your immune system strong is going to help when it comes to fighting off these bugs. Staying hydrated, getting plenty of sleep, boosting your body with whole foods and supplements and dialing down the stress levels are just a few of the ways to bolster your immune system. Although I do take extra supplements during cold and flu season, I prefer to use food as medicine and one of my favorite medicinal beverages is golden milk.
Golden milk, which is rooted in the Ayurvedic tradition, is a great addition to strengthen and support your immune system. Turmeric, the star of this drink, is both antimicrobial and a natural antibiotic. Cinnamon and ginger are known for their anti-inflammatory properties as well. Coconut oil provides some healthy fats and the black pepper makes the turmeric more bio-available. Basically, it is a creamy cup of deliciousness brimming with immunity boosting nutrition!
So, whether you are feeling under the weather or you just want to give your body a boost, there’s no better way than with a mug of warm golden milk. It’s love in a cup!
If you want to add some meditation to your healing journey, join Oprah and Deepak Chopra for their free 21 day Perfect Health meditation series. It starts February 3, 2020. To register go here, click on “online” and look for the 21 day meditation experience.
1 1/2 cups light coconut milk (canned is best)
1 1/2 cups nut milk
1 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbs coconut oil
1 pinch black pepper
sweeter of choice (maple syrup, coconut sugar or stevia)
1. In a small saucepan, combine coconut milk, nut milk, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, coconut oil, sweetener and black pepper.
2. Whisk to combine. Warm over medium heat until hot but do not boil.
3. Serve immediately.