Moment for Health: Battle of the Colds

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1_-Common-ColdNo colds for me as I take a swig of my kale, ginger, garlic, lemon juiced cocktail with a couple of pinches of cayenne–a concoction to light my insides on fire for sure.

It seems all around me people are hacking, children sniffling, spouses snaffling. The whole world is just one big giant germ.

At the grocery store a woman sneezes and at what seems like the speed of sound an invisible spray of who-knows-what is dispensed into the canned soup aisle. The woman carries on, snuffling her way to the checkout stand, and I imagine the microbial vapors dispersing through the air, eventually wafting into every aisle, ebbing closer to an innocent victim.

Good thing the body has its own personal army that fights every threat it encounters, each cellular soldier ready to pit its defenses against the germy cabal. The vapors of course are my imagination, a tool that spurs me to move quickly out of that section of the store. Though the virus can attack by air, for the most part, it usually finds its way into the body by stealthily contaminating a surface like a doorknob, computer keyboard or even a can of soup.

Soon innocent fingers touch the tainted item and find their way up to the face, maybe to scratch an itchy nose or rub red-rimmed eyes. Wham! The cold virus then latches on to the lining of the nose or throat with its villainous claws and the battle begins.

Instantly the body’s defense system is called into action and out come the good guys, the white blood cells, to engage in virus combat. This produces inflammation and a heck of a lot of mucus and redirects a good amount of the body’s energy towards eliminating this alien invasion.

T cells and B cells rush out and cell slam the viruses, noting their specific shape and size to signal the enemy’s stats to the immune system, droves of reinforcements now geared towards eliminating that particular virus. Soon cilia like karate kicks rampage the viruses with a full slow motion spin like in The Matrix (yes!).

All around macrophages storm out of the tissue and hurdle their plump bodies around the enemy and begin to eat the viruses alive, the viruses’ curdling death muffled inside the microscopic battleground.

At this point most people start to feel pretty miserable, and so it’s off to the store for some OTC (over the counter) medication.

Do these really help the body combat colds? No. They treat the symptoms of a cold, running nose, sore throat, enabling a person to stay calm and carry on. But what a cold really needs is to run its course.

The best bet for any cold is prevention, which means don’t wear the body down with poor eating habits, smoking and getting angry. And don’t become excessively fatigued. Get the required sleep necessary since becoming extra tired can make the body susceptible to a cold.

Emotional distress sucks up a lot of energy and leaves the body vulnerable, so learn stress coping skills such as meditation, yoga or get support from friends and family.

If a cold does make a landing, here is some advice: Stay home, rest, enjoy a bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup (for vegans, a delicious white miso soup hits the spot), drink lots of water, put on the kettle for some nettle tea (chock full of vitamins and minerals) and Netflix a really silly comedy so the laughing can work up the mucus in the lungs and stimulate endorphins.

Groucho Marx nailed it when he said, “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.”

The cold won’t stand a chance.

Reach gina at [email protected]

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