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5 Natural Cold and Flu Remedies

5 Natural Cold and Flu Remedies
It has been an extra sickly flu season for a lot of the folks in my life, and  I bet that a lot of you are battling the wintertime ick, as well. With more cold  weather on the way in a lot of the northern hemisphere, it felt like a good time  to round up a few of the cold and flu remedies that seem to actually make a  difference. While there’s no way to totally cure a cold or the flu once it’s taken hold, these remedies  can definitely help reduce your sickness’ severity and duration.

oregano

1. Oil of  Oregano

I wish I could remember who hipped me to oil of oregano, but this stuff has  been great for me this flu season. Oil of oregano is rich in vitamins and  minerals and is said to reduce pain and inflammation.

The second you start feeling run down, you’ll want to pop oil of oregano  pills twice a day between meals. I normally get a couple of bad illnesses during  the winter, and this time around I managed to kick the sick in just a few days,  rather than battling symptoms for a week.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by frostnova

hold the sun

2. Vitamin D

I’ve talked about vitamin D’s flu-fighting abilities before, and it bears  mentioning again. You can get your vitamin D through dietary sources, supplements, or good old sunshine. The only trick with vitamin D is that you  want to be careful not to take too much. Since this is a fat soluble vitamin,  your body doesn’t eliminate it as efficiently as water soluble vitamins.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by danibelle2906

zinc

3. Zinc

According to a recent article in the New York Times, zinc is a powerful natural cold and flu remedy. The trick is finding a  reliable lozenge. Many of the ones in the drug store have additives that either  make the zinc less effective or lower the zinc content too much. Stick to a  brand you trust and do some careful label reading to find a zinc supplement  without too many extra ingredients and a higher percentage of zinc.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by ethorson

man using a neti pot

4. Neti Pot

I can’t say enough good things about the neti pot! While it’s a little bit  tricky to use at first, once you get the hang of it, you’ll never want to be  without yours. If you’re feeling congestion coming on, I’d suggest flushing with  the neti pot a couple of times a day. Even if you still get sick, you’ll spend  fewer days mouth breathing and nursing a dry, painful nose.

New to the neti pot? Here are some tips for getting started with a neti pot.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Buffawhat

Rest is key to fighting cold and flu

5. Rest

When all is said and done, rest is one of the best things you can do for your  body when you’re under the weather. Your immune system needs time to do its  thing, and resting gives your body a chance to heal. It’s sometimes hard to take  a day off from work to nurse yourself back to health, but a day or two of rest  now can help cut down the duration of your illness and save you many days of  discomfort.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by planetchopstick

By Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a freelance writer and vegan crafter living in Atlanta,  Georgia. Her life’s mission is to make green crafting and vegan food accessible  to everyone! Like this article? You can follow  Becky on Twitter or find her on  Facebook!

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Anna Gutermuth

6 Stress Management Tips from Around the World

6 Stress Management Tips from Around the World

 

How do you decompress after a long day or week? What do you consider  relaxing? They answer may change based on where you live. Check out some of the  ways people across the globe manage their stress, and let us know your  techniques in the comments.

1. Brazil

It’s all about balance in sunny Brazil. In this laid-back country, relaxation  and time with loved ones are built into your everyday life. It’s not about  working hard so you can relax when you retire, it’s about enjoying life’s simple  pleasures every day. Indeed, Brazilians truly have relaxation down to an  art form.

 

2. China

If you stroll through a city park in China, you’re might stumble upon a very  curious sight — several dozen people, sometimes hundreds, all exercising  together. Tai-chi, yoga, ballroom dancing — you name it, the Chinese are doing  it. It’s as much a social event as it is a workout.

 

3. Finland

Nothing says relaxing to Finns like a trip to the sauna. Indeed, in Finland,  letting off steam in a sauna with friends is a weekly activity — it’s not  considered a luxury like it is in most other parts of the world. Most Finns  visit the sauna at least once a week, usually on Saturdays, with close friends  and family. It’s a social event, though a relaxing one. In the sauna, most  people avoid controversial issues and arguments are taboo.

 

4. Italy

Italians are all about after-dinner strolls. Walking through their villages,  these traditional walks allow Italians to catch up with friends and neighbors,  get some fresh air and, of course, get in a little exercise.

 

5. New Zealand

With a more relaxed work environment, where leaving the office early or  taking time off for leisurely purposes isn’t as frowned upon as it is in the  U.S., Kiwis get to enjoy all their beautiful country has to offer. Outdoor  sports are big in New Zealand, and team sports like soccer and rugby are quite  popular, too.

 

 

6. Denmark

Often ranked as the happiest country on the planet, Denmark has a lot of  things going for it in terms of relaxing. To be clear, Sure, a healthy  economy, an excellent social welfare system, and political stability don’t hurt  the tiny Scandinavian nation’s stress level. There’s another crucial aspect of  Danish culture that plays apart in it too: For the Danes, their homes are their  sanctuaries — private places to relax away from the bustle of the city. Taking  pleasure in being at home sure does wonders for your stress level.

Katie Waldeck

Katie is a freelance writer focused on pets, food and women’s issues. A  Chicago native and longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Katie now lives  in Oakland, California.

 

10 Food Swaps to Lower Blood Pressure

10 Food Swaps to Lower Blood Pressure

 

While blood pressure raises and lowers naturally, sustained elevation —  otherwise known as high  blood pressure, or hypertension — can damage your heart, kidneys,  and even brain.

More than 65 million Americans have the condition — caused by  stress, aging, a poor diet, not enough exercise, obesity,  smoking, or  just plain genetics — and which can be managed in part by cutting  back  on sodium, according to the American  Heart Association.

The recommended daily allowance of sodium is no more than 2,300 mg —  about 1  teaspoon of table salt — which adds up fast. These switches —  also good for  those who want to maintain low blood pressure — can help  you cut your salt  intake without sacrificing flavor.

1. Say No to Pre-Packaged Frozen Dinners They’re quick  and easy to prepare, but many frozen meals also pack a   huge sodium punch — as  much as 1,800 mg in one dish, according to MSNBC.com — and many of  them don’t have enough vegetables  to help you meet your  daily  requirements. For fast meals on busy nights,  freeze leftovers or  try make-ahead  casseroles that go from freezer to oven to  table with a  minimum of  effort (like Emeril’s Mexican  Chicken Tortilla version) to make sure  you’re  getting the right  nutrients.

Worst case: Look for low-sodium, organic frozen meals.

2. Trade Salt for Spices, Vinegar, or Fruit Juice Start  by adding fresh or dried herbs and spices — like rosemary, basil,  dill, oregano, hot peppers, thyme — lemon  or lime juice, flavored  vinegars, and garlic in place of salt in your favorite  recipes.

 

 

3. Try Oil and Vinegar For Salads Salads,  sandwiches,  and stir-frys are often healthier than other dinner  options,  but you can  inadvertently add too much sodium by pouring on ketchup,  mustard, soy sauce, and salad  dressings. Try simple olive oil and balsamic  vinegar  on your greens, use fresh  tomatoes on your burger, and look  for low-sodium  versions of other  condiments — or just make sure to  watch your portions (one  tablespoon  of regular ketchup has a whopping  160-190 mg of sodium). Some  companies  do the work for you, though: This  spring, according to the Huffington  Post, Heinz announced that it tweaked  its  classic ketchup recipe to  cut the sodium by 15 percent in response  to new FDA  salt limits.

4. Trade Canned Soup, Broth, and Vegetables For   Homemade Canned goods are notoriously high in sodium — one serving   can have as much as half your daily allowance — so you might be paying  for the  convenience. Soups and broths are easy enough to make yourself once you realize that they  pretty much  require two things — water and time — and you can flavor  them with vegetables,  herbs, and spices for low-cost meals that feed a  crowd. Many companies also  offer low-sodium or no-salt-added versions of  popular soups, broths, and  vegetables (but check the sodium levels on  your frozen  vegetables, too, especially if they come with  seasonings or sauces:  sodium often sneaks into those).

Try canning or freezing your own vegetables during the summer to eat  all  winter.

 

 

5. Avoid the Brine Pickles,  olives, sauerkraut, and just about any  other  vegetables that come in a  brine may not feel unhealthy,  but those  brines were designed to  preserve the food — which means  there’s plenty of sodium floating around. Limit your indulgence in  these  foods, and try your hand at canning  your own pickles from fresh cucumbers to  be sure  you know exactly  how much salt you’re eating.

6. Cut Down on Cured Meats Bacon,  ham, salami, and other cured meats are another  sodium obstacle:  According to the NIH  DASH eating plan, 3 ounces of lean meat, fish, or  poultry contains  between 30 and 90 mg of sodium, while the same amount of  roasted ham contains 1,020 mg. Eat cured meats sparingly and replace  them with fresh chicken, pork,  fish, or even no-salt-added canned tuna. Watch  out for smoked and  processed versions, too — they’ll also increase your sodium  levels.

7. Reach for Unsalted Popcorn Over Salty Snacks It  doesn’t take a dietitian to realize that salty snacks are higher in  sodium than  sweet ones — that’s something your tastebuds can probably  tell you all by  themselves. In a perfect world, you’d replace all those cravings for crackers,   chips, and pretzels with fresh  fruit slices and carrot sticks — but when you just  can’t resist a  snack attack, look for healthier versions, like no-salt popcorn,  low-sodium crackers, or unsalted chips.

8. Substitute Whole Wheat Flour For White Flour Choosing whole  wheat pasta, rice, bread, cereal, and snacks can help  lower blood  pressure in several ways: You’ll be skipping a lot of processed and  salted foods by default (since many of them are made with white flour),  and  they can help you lose weight, which lowers your risk of developing  many  health conditions (including high blood pressure). Make oatmeal, rice, and pasta  without adding salt to the cooking  water, and you could end up with as little  as 5 mg of sodium per  serving. (Leesa recommends The Pure Wraps made from Coconut and Quinoa for those who need to eat Gluten-Free!)

 

 

9. Say No to Buttermilk Buttermilk has more than twice as much sodium as a cup of  its less-flavorful  cousin, low-fat milk, which means you could be adding a lot  more than  just taste to those pancakes. Stick with regular milk and natural  (not  processed) cheese as part of a low-sodium diet, since they also contain   blood-pressure-lowering potassium.

10. Stock Up on Dark Chocolate Okay, here’s  one piece of  good news: Dark  chocolate doesn’t need to go on your list of foods to  avoid, since  some studies have shown that the flavanols it contains can help  lower  blood pressure by helping dilate blood vessels. As with any treat,  you don’t want to eat too much of it — but in small  amounts, it can  have health benefits that go beyond a sugar  rush. (Leesa recommends Vivani 85% Org Dark Chocolate!)

By Blythe Copeland, TreeHugger

 

 

 

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