When I was in high school (before I turned vegan), my friends would always point out that I was "always sick." To be honest, it was kind of true. I was up all night doing homework every night, I wasn't eating enough, I was stressed, and let's be honest, schools are not the cleanest places on the planet. I would get sick multiple times during the school year, if not, I always had a headache or I was very tired. Since becoming vegan and eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and grains, I've found that my immune system has become significantly stronger. Since starting college, I've only gotten sick twice over the past two semesters and the severity and duration of my colds were not as intense as they have been in the past. While this may be twice too many times for some people, it was like a miracle to me given my living situation (sharing a room with someone else, living in a building with hundreds of other students, communal bathrooms, a dining hall where someone else is making my food etc.). Taking care of yourself, whether you've come down with a bug or not, is absolutely essential. I know a lot of my peers find it easiest to just take something like DayQuil/NyQuil when they feel symptoms, but it really isn't going to do them any favors in the long run. A lot of over the counter medicines will mask the symptoms without actually treating the virus at it's core, so here are some of my tips for nipping a cold in the bud.
It is so important to make sure you're getting plenty of fluids, even when you're feeling healthy. Our bodies are made up of mostly water, so make sure you're drinking lots of it to keep your body going, especially when your immune system is working hard to ward off whatever bug you've contracted. I have a reusable stainless steel water bottle from S'well that I just refill as the day goes on. Warm herbal tea is also really great too! My favorites for daytime are green tea and Tulsi Holy Basil and I like chamomile tea when I'm winding down for the day.
Feed yourself well
Think of your body as a car and food as your fuel. You would put the best kind of fuel into your car to make sure it ran properly, right? So do the same thing with your body. Your best bet is fresh, plant-based foods. Stay away from animal products, especially dairy! Dairy can thicken your mucus (gross, I know) and make the process of getting over a cold or sinus infection long and miserable. Soup with lots of vegetable broth is great and comforting. Fresh fruits and vegetables high in vitamins A and C like sweet potatoes, carrots, oranges, spinach, kale and apples are fantastic. My favorite way to really make sure I'm packing in all of my fruits and veggies is juice! It's also great for sneaking in other foods that you wouldn't eat a lot of on their own like ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper and lemon. I like making juice at home in a juicer or if you don't have a juicer you can make it in a blender. Just throw all of your ingredients into a blender with a splash of water, blend until smooth and strain the liquid through a sieve. Since I'm at school and don't have access to a blender/juicer, I go to Whole Foods and buy cold-pressed juices. Not necessarily the most cost-effective way, but it gets the job done.
My holy grail! I absolutely swear by essential oils to kick a cold in the butt. They're also a great preventative measure for keeping yourself healthy. I get mine online from Young Living, but I know Whole Foods also carries other brands. I like to use a couple drops of Lemon, Tangerine, or Lime in my water to get a little vitamin C boost. Lavender is great for soothing headaches. I usually rub a drop of lavender oil between my fingers and rub along my temples, forehead, and down the bridge of my nose. Peppermint and Eucalyptus oils are amazing for relieving congestion! I blend a couple drops of peppermint oil with carrier oil like jojoba oil (blending with a carrier oil is important-peppermint oil is very strong and can irritate sensitive skin) and rub it onto my chest. You can also put a couple of drops of peppermint oil into a warm bath. To really clear up your sinuses, you can put hot water into a glass or metal bowl, put in a couple of drops of peppermint or eucalyptus, drape a towel over your head and inhale the steam. The Thieves oil from Young Living is my favorite to diffuse. It has an amazing spicy and earthy aroma and it's great for supporting a healthy immune system. I use a SpaRoom diffuser, but if you don't have a diffuser you can pour hot water into metal or glass bowl, put in a couple of drops of oil and let the scent fill the room.
Herbal Supplements & Homeopathic Remedies
I like to take these as soon as I feel symptoms. I like Counter Attack by Rainbow Light and Oscillococcinum by BOIRON. They don't make you drowsy and they're really easy to take. You can find them at Whole Foods and most other health food stores have them.
Probably the hardest part of healing for me since I'm always busy, but definitely one of the most important. I aim to get at least eight or nine hours of sleep at night and power nap when I can during the day. I typically stay away from high intensity exercise, but getting fresh air by walking around campus, doing restorative yoga and stretching makes me feel a lot better.