With cold and flu season in full blast, I thought I’d share with you my all-natural “cocktail” for keeping those pesky symptoms at bay. I’ve also got a great article about exercising when ill.

The key to my all-natural “cocktail” is to start taking these things at the first signs of symptoms.

1. Umka cold and flu. This is a homeopathic remedy someone told me about. This person doesn’t typically believe in taking an all-natural or homeopathic approach to illness, so when she swore by it, I figured it was worth a try. Umka never dissapoints!

2. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant known to help boost the immune system. I use Ester C because it’s non-acidic and is therefore gentler on my stomach, which is pretty acid sensitive. When I’m starting to get sick, I take 1000 mg 2-3 times per day. During cold and flu season, or if I’ve been exposed to someone who is sick, I take 1000 mg once per day.

3. Zinc has antioxidant effects and is vital to the body’s resistance to infection. Zinc is also important for tissue repair. There are conflicting reports as to whether it works to help reduce the duration of a cold, so ask your doctor. My doctor recommends it so I take 50 mg, once per day. 

4. Probiotics. Over 70% of our immune system is comprised of our gut and having a plethora of good bacteria is really important to keeping the balance of our gut bacteria in check. Too much of the bad bacteria or too little of the good bacteria can weaken our immune system.

Please don’t mess around with the wimpy probiotic strains in yogurt. Aside from dairy being one of the worst things to eat when you’re sick because it promotes inflammation and contributes to phlegm, the amount of probiotics in yogurt is pretty small. It will take longer than the duration of your cold to shift the bacteria balance in your gut.

Go for the gusto! FloraMend Prime Probiotic is one of my favorites because the quality of Thorne Research products is stellar and because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. If you go to the store to buy one, choose a probiotic that has strains in the Billions. Probiotics are also great to take all year round, to keep the balance of your gut bacteria in check all the time and help improve your immune system and bowel function.

5. Juice Plus. I started taking Juice Plus about 6 months ago, after hearing so many good things from fellow kettlebell trainers, fitness enthusiasts and people concerned with their health. You know I’m very picky on which products I will endorse and Juice Plus is one I feel confident telling people about.

I know someone with an amazing testimonial too. After treatment for breast cancer, her blood markers were not going down and her doctors couldn’t figure out why. She started taking Juice Plus and within weeks her cancer markers decreased to the normal range!

Anyhoo, I feel like I don’t get sick as often since I started taking Juice Plus but if I do start to feel a little off, I double up on my dose along with the rest of this cocktail. I honestly don’t know if doubling my dose helps but I figure the extra boost of anti-oxidants from the fruits and vegetables certainly can’t hurt! (update: my Juice Plus rep told me to take a dose every couple of hours when I feel something coming on and so far so good!)

6. Nasal/sinus rinsing is yucky, but very effective. It was first recommended to me by my allergist who said it helps reduce inflammation of the nasal passages and sinuses. Later, my acupuncturist recommended doing rinses 4 times a day when sick to help prevent sinus infections. It’s yucky, but I haven’t had a sinus infection since.  You can use either a neti pot or NeilMed’s system.

Exercise and illness

I also have a lot of people ask me about whether they should exercise when they have a cold or the flu. A common theme I see is that people think they can sweat it out, or that exercise will help invigorate them and make them feel better. I know that I always get sicker if I workout when I’m starting to come down with something and I’ve seen that with others as well. Then my friends at Precision Nutrition came out with this wonderful article that addresses this very issue.

Kettlebell training is typically not classified as low intensity, low heart rate cardio. Training with kettlebells is high intensity interval training and heavy strength training, so it belongs under the “Activities to avoid when you’re sick” category.

So if you’re getting sick, try out my prescription above and we’ll see you in class once you’re feeling better! If you try (or have tried) my special cocktail, please feel free to leave a comment below and let us know how it worked for you.