Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


Fighting Colds the Natural Way
Posted By Scott Bird
UPDATE 1/09/14 : As you’d expect, something like diet is constantly being fine-tuned. Although much of it’s the same, I now have a ‘modified Paleo‘ approach and avoid things such as dairy, pasta & crackers entirely.



Since I stopped relying on medication for relatively minor illnesses (such as colds) I have noticed that they are of a greater intensity, over a shorter period of time. I would much prefer to suffer for a couple of days than feel less-than-perfect for a week or more.
The phases are the same, with the only difference being the way in which I respond to the symptoms.
The phases are :

# Name Major symptoms Duration
1 Initial signs Partial loss of voice / sore throat 12 hrs
2 Beginning slight weakness / partial loss of voice / sore throat 12 hrs
3 Major signs slight weakness / sore throat / sneezing / occasional coughing 24 hrs
4 Fighting strong weakness / sore throat / running nose / high temperature 24 hrs
5 Survival strong weakness / running nose / wheezing 24 hrs
6 Clearing slight weakness / drying nose 12 hrs
7 Recovery slight weakness 12 hrs

Throughout these phases, I respond by :

  • avoiding alcohol, caffeine (other than small amounts found in some teas), sugar, dairy products, smoke-filled environments
  • reducing consumption of meat and soy products
  • increasing daily supplementation of Vitamin C from 1750mg to around 6250mg (spread throughout day)
  • increasing consumption of water, fruit juice (such as the pineapple, orange and ginger concoction pictured) and herbal teas
  • cleaning all clothes, towels and bed sheets more frequently than usual
  • increasing rest – I generally sleep 4-5 hours per night, and this may increase to as much as 12-14 (of reduced quality due to high temperature and poor breathing)

I particularly avoid the use of medications of any kind (during this period specifically – not all the time), and generally do not seek additional medical advice. I tend to eat less – although more frequently. This generally takes the form of fresh fruit, soups, rice crackers and simple pasta meals.
Notes for next time :
As much as I would like to think that staying healthy will prevent the dreaded cold from ever making a comeback, that’s somewhat unlikely. My aim now is to reduce the frequency, severity and duration (by at least 24 hours) of attacks.
A major part of this is to strengthen the immune system immediately following the most severe phases of the illness; the time when you feel well enough to return to life-as-usual but are not yet back to full strength.
During this period I still avoid anything mucus-forming (notably dairy products), and eat mainly hot (yang) foods such as chili, garlic, ginger, honey, onions and a small amount of red meat. Soups such as the tasty, light and cleansing Chicken and Ginseng Soup (a personal favorite, whether ill or not) are also good.

Incidentally, if this has got you thinking about your own diet, you might like to swing by Fantastic site.

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.



NB : if you love talking about strength-training as much as I do, you might also like to check out the weekly newsletter (there's also a daily version available). A regular dose of fitness-focussed discussions, absolutely free.


What's This?

Straight to the Bar is the online home of fitness enthusiast Scott Bird, and looks at the many training approaches, essential techniques, uncommon exercises and superb equipment to help you become as strong as humanly possible. In short, this site is the home of all things strength.

images of strength


Want to see (and learn) more Feats of Strength like this? Dive in.

Ever Tried Kettlebells?

If you’ve seen people using them but never taken the plunge yourself, here are the ones I use personally. You can also pick up a book/DVD/course if you want to learn how to put them to work.

Just Joined Us? Try These.

There are some incredible writers on the team here. To give you an idea, check these out :

If you enjoyed these, check out the complete ‘Best Of Straight to the Bar‘ list. Fantastic.

Logan's 'Quarantine Sale' Courses

As much as I love training with free weights (and the occasional machine, for specific things) I'm partial to the occasional dose of bodyweight goodness. Particularly when travelling.

If you're keen to dive into this training approach even deeper, you may wish to check out Logan's 'Quarantine Sale' Courses.

Various courses looking at the world of bodyweight training from many angles, perfect for when you're housebound for a little while.

Wherever You Are, We Are.

In addition to the main site, you can share your strength-training passion with a like-minded community on :

Wherever you like to hang out, get your regular dose of strength. Straight to the Bar.

Written By Scott Bird
Scott is a long-time fitness enthusiast (Jan 2004!), writer and photographer living in Sydney, Australia. If you share the passion for spending a bit of time under a bar, welcome. Love hearing how everyone else trains. You can connect via Twitter, Facebook and the various networks listed in the sidebar.
Drawing of Scott Andrew Bird performing a deadlift. Artwork by Vince Palko.