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No one likes feeling under the weather, and unfortunately we find ourselves steering right into the peak of cold and flu season. As an athlete, avoiding illness is a no-brainer. You want to avoid getting sick and having to miss practices and games. (Be Immune to Getting Sick This Season) Here are some "preventive medicine"-type prescriptions to battle germs and boost your immune system, making you less likely to get sick:
- Hydrate: Water and water-based foods should be the main ingredients of your health-building strategy. Consume fruits, vegetables, soups, black and green tea throughout the day. This will keep you from becoming dehydrated while also deterring germs from sticking to the back of your throat. A dry throat is a breeding ground for cold and flu germs, so you'll want to keep your throat and upper respiratory tract moist often. (See how it helped Pro-Snow Boarder Ellery Hollingsworth.)
- Include garlic, onions, hot mustard and hot peppers in your daily diet: These spices and spicy foods are natural expectorants/decongestants that help loosen and discharge mucus and improve breathing. Hot peppers, particularly those of the red variety, also contain the healing vitamins A and C.
- Try honey mixed with apple cider vinegar. It's a wonderful energizing tonic even when you're not sick, but if you start to feel a tickling dry cough and/or sore throat, this could be a simple cure. Mix two teaspoons of honey and two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water. Sip and gargle for five seconds, then swallow. Continue sequence until glass is finished. Repeat if necessary a few more times throughout the day for relieving coughs and sore throats.
- Gargle with warm salt water: Salt is another natural antiseptic that aids in killing germs in the throat. At the first sign of a dry tickling cough or sore throat, start gargling with warm salt water and repeat often to alleviate symptoms. Mix two teaspoons of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle for five seconds, eject, and then continue gargling until glass is finished.
- Wash your hands: This simple chore is the optimal way to prevent disease year-round. Wash hands thoroughly, rubbing with soapy water for approximately 20 seconds, especially before handling food or after shaking hands, touching door knobs, phones, computers and other germy areas—and definitely avoid placing your hands on your eyes, nose and mouth where germs can enter the body.
If you do get a stuffy head cold
Try hydrotherapy, an ancient healing method:
- Get two large pots and fill one with cold water/ ice and the other with hot water
- Place your feet first in the hot water for one minute, then immediately put them in the cold water for another minute
- Repeat sequence twice more
Hot and cold footbaths are a centuries-old method for relieving headaches, nasal and chest congestion by bringing blood from the head down to the feet. A minute-long hot shower immediately followed with a minute-long cold shower (with the water directed towards the head, neck and chest to loosen upper respiratory congestion) is an alternative hydrotherapy method to footbaths.