Well, I’m sick. One of those end-of-summer, knock-you-on-your-ass kind of colds. A co-worker has been sick for the last week and a half and I knew there was just a matter of time before it found its way to me.
You see, normally, I never get sick. For the last few years I’ve had a strong immune system (and some great remedies) that have resulted in either avoiding the plagues that seem to drag everyone else down, or if I do get sick, it’s mild and rarely lasts more than 5 days. But when you’re pregnant, your immune system is also depressed. This is a built-in safety mechanism to keep your body from viewing the baby as a threat and the immune system trying to get rid of it. The body is soooo smart. This is also why many women experience a remission in auto-immune conditions when pregnant – the immune system is calmer and just doesn’t have as extreme reactions.
So, knowing that my immune system was naturally weakened, I figured it was just a matter of time before the germs found me. When I got home from work last night, K asked me how my day was. My answer was, “Well… I think I’m getting sick!”. I had that warm, heavy feeling behind my eyes and this sensation of weight in my chest – my usual first signs of illness.
Since I’m pregnant, I can’t use all the remedies I normally would (I’m looking at you, oil of oregano), but I still have a pretty good lineup of strategies. Hopefully this might come in handy for you the next time you come down with something, pregnant or not!
I always have bone broth made and ready in the freezer. I drink it pretty regularly anyway, but especially these days. Bone broth is rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium and phosphorous and it is a fantastic source of collagen and glycine. All these goodies support cellular development and the immune system.
I started another batch in the slow cooker and warmed some up for dinner that night. I also added some shredded beef (more protein and iron) and dulse flakes (a great source of phytochemicals, magnesium, iodine and other minerals). This stuff is seriously one of my favourite things to sip when sick – it’s just so comforting!
Dehydration is common during colds. Your body needs more fluids to deal with the illness and often you just don’t feel like drinking or eating much when you’re sick. Herbal teas are a great way to get that needed hydration as well as vitamins and trace minerals. I brewed up a pot of ginger tea to sip on over the evening. Be careful with herbal teas when pregnant – many herbs are contraindicated. There’s a great list here. Safe teas when pregnant include ginger, chamomile and peppermint (just don’t go overboard and drink gallons of the stuff).
A natural anti-inflammatory anti-viral and anti-microbial, coconut oil is good for you all the time. High in the fatty acid lauric acid, it’s both nourishing and supportive to the immune system.
I blended a tablespoon into my ginger tea using a Magic Bullet – this makes a great frothy drink. Consumed in a hot drink, it’s also quite effective at soothing a sore and scratchy throat.
Most of us are deficient in magnesium since it tends to be depleted in soils. It’s an essential mineral and crucial for many of the body’s processes. I often take Natural Calm before bed – it helps me sleep and keeps me regular! Magnesium’s properties are especially beneficial when you’re sick. It has a calming effect on the nervous system, helps relax your muscles (so you sleep deeper and longer) and it is a vasodilator, increasing blood circulation.
Studies into whether vitamin C reduces the severity of illness have been inconclusive. We do know that vitamin C supports the immune system, and since it’s self-limiting, meaning that your body will flush out what it doesn’t need. Whole food sources of vitamins and minerals are always better, so I just try to get extra sources of fruit and green veggies when sick. Plus, juicy citrus fruits are usually extra appealing when sick. My go to this week has been green grapes, navel oranges and apples.
One of the best things you can do when you’re sick is to sleep. Sleep allows your body to regenerate and repair. I haven’t been sleeping well for a few weeks (damn pregnancy related tossing and turning!) so I knew I really needed it now. I hopped into bed at 8:30 pm and plan to keep the early bedtime up until I feel better!
Any external stressor is taxing on your system. When your immune system is waging war on a cold, the last thing it needs is a bunch of other problems getting in the way. So it’s time to dial back on my external stressors – I’m taking it easy with the workouts (walking and yoga is it for the next few days), cutting back on sugars, and chilling out about all the cleaning and household projects that I’ve been wanting to finish (they can wait).
So there you have it, my strategies for fighting off a cold or flu, and not a Tylenol pill or cough syrup among them. What’s your go-to cold remedy?
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, just a healthy eating and weight-loss coach with a passion for holistic and traditional nutrition. The information I share on this website is just that, information. It is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment. Always check with your health care team before following the suggestions of random people on the internet.