26 Mar How to stay healthy and well during cold and flu season
If you want to avoid falling prey to every little bug going around and to avoid coughing and sneezing your way through winter the key is getting the right nutrition to maintain a healthy immune system
Try to eat a rainbow of different coloured vegetables for bioflavonoids (powerful antioxidants that support the immune system). Eat leafy greens & orange vegetables such as squash, carrots, pumpkin, yellow pepper that are high in beta-carotene.
Include plenty of garlic in your diet (garlic has antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial activity) and eat shitake mushrooms (they have immune boosting properties).
Add thyme, oregano, rosemary herbs to your cooking, and to soups & stews (these herbs have anti viral properties). Eat plenty of hot herbs and spices – ginger, chilli and horseradish – to get your circulation moving and boost your temperature to more effectively fight and get rid of bugs.
Eat lots of vitamin C rich foods – vitamin C is plentiful in fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits, red peppers, parsley, dark leafy greens, strawberries, kiwi, papaya, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
And have cold-pressed nut and seed oils (such as sunflower oil), whole nuts and seeds, raw almond butter and avocado for vitamin E.
Make sure to include pumpkin and sunflower seeds and seafood for the crucial immune boosting mineral zinc and include good fats (EFA’s) found in these protein-rich foods – oily fish like mackerel, wild salmon, sardines and walnuts and chia seeds.
Stay hydrated– drink plenty of water and hot drinks like herbal teas
Avoid sugar– it depresses immunity – studies show it reduces the activity of white blood cells very rapidly after you eat it- and stay away from mucus-producing foods. Avoid dairy, sugar, white flour and too much alcohol
Get enough sleep – essential for immunity, your body cannot heal without adequate rest.
Avoid stress (stress depresses immune function) and cultivate a positive mindset. Exercise, yoga, and meditation all reduce the effects that stress has on the body.
Think about your gut! If you’ve taken a lot of antibiotics in the past or suffer from bloating, consider taking a probiotic supplement. The healthful flora-restoring bacteria found in probiotics can boost your immune system (close to 70% of our immune system actually resides in our gut to looking after gut health is key for immunity)
Consider taking a vitamin D3 supplement through the winter – vitamin D is an important immune supporting nutrient and as our main source of vitamin D the sun, many people in the UK are deficient in this important vitamin in the winter months. You can get a blood test to establish your vitamin D levels and to determine whether you need to supplement.
If, despite all your best efforts, you do succumb to a cold the following can help speed recovery from your symptoms:
Eat Lightly. Let your body’s energy go toward eliminating the virus instead of digesting food. At the first sign of a cold or flu decrease your food intake and focus on fruit and vegetables or even better, eliminate solid food entirely for the first 24 hours. Instead Drink plenty of water, herbal tea, freshly made vegetable and fruit juices, and have soup – vegetable and chicken soups are best – chicken contains the amino acid cysteine which helps to break up mucus. Drink hot lemon (high vitamin C), honey (anti microbial and anti-tussive – it helps to stop a cough) and ginger. Do nothave any dairy.
Avoid Sugar intake depresses the immune system.
Include garlic —Eat 1-3 cloves of chopped garlic per day (swallowed with a glass of water if you are brave or otherwise add them to soups)
These supplements can be very helpful: (dosages are for adults over 18 years):
Vitamin C—Take 2000 mg per day for the duration of the cold
Zinc—Take 30mg day for the duration of the cold
Herbal medicine – Echinacea is the most famous, but there are many herbs that have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties – a professional naturopath can advise which ones are suitable for you
Steam– to help decongest have baths with epsom salts and eucalyptus essential oil.