How to Survive Cold and Flu Season on a Low-Carb Diet

(contributed by Linda Anegawa, MD, FACP)

Have you noticed everyone around you is starting to sniffle and sneeze?  Here are some tips to prevent getting sick, and what to do if you do end up with a bug.

1. Prevention is key! Keep your water intake up. If you aren’t getting the minimum 64oz. of water per day start with that as your goal. Then add more water until you are drinking 1⁄2 your body weight in ounces of water every day! Drinking lots of fluids, water, unsweetened tea, clear broths, & rehydration solutions like Powerade Zero may help.

2. Wash your hands frequently and wipe down your keyboards, door handles and phones.  Carry hand sanitizer wherever you go and use it frequently.

3. Medications & Remedies: If you do get sick, look out for carbs and sugars in over-the-counter medications and treatments.   Always read the labels on medications and look for the ones that are sugar-free or low in sugar. Did you know 1 pack of Emergen C has 5 carb grams including 4 grams of sugar. A cough drop has 3 or 4g of carbs – so popping 10+ a day will add 30g of carbs or more. Nyquil liquid has 19g of carbs per serving!  When in doubt, ask your pharmacist whether a medication is sugar-free and alcohol-free.

4. Brands to try: Hyland’s DEFENSE Cough & Cold (sugar free, dye free, alcohol free) OR Theraflu Sugar Free Nighttime Severe Cold & Cough, OR Nyquil capsules- not liquid form.  There’s also Hall’s Sugar Free Honey and Lemon (no aspartame!).  Remember, while these may be sugar free, you should still limit them as much as possible. Compare labels of all brands and look for carbs and sugars hidden in the medications! Tylenol, aspirin, and ibuprofen can also be helpful if needed.  One of the simple solutions to relieving throat symptoms rather than purchasing these medications is by gargling salt-water solution. Simply mix 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt in a cup of water. What’s more, you’ll save money.

5. Foods to eat: Try plain chicken broth, soft boiled eggs and unsweetened hot tea.  Stevia-sweetened electrolyte drinks like Vitamin Water Zero can help keep up your hydration and soothe sore throats.

6. Rest! You’ve heard it before but getting enough rest and sleep every day will help in your recovery. When the body is sleeping, it’s healing!