Winter Colds and Flu
Getting a cold or flu anytime of year really sucks, but in the winter it’s just unbearable. Winter, for scientific reasons, wreaks havoc on our immune systems and often seems like it’s attacking us from all corners. Chapped lips, frozen extremities, exactly 29 layers of clothing, constant need for a source of warmth (costly), dangerous roads, rain rain rain then snow, wet cold socks ’cause you weren’t wearing waterproof shoes, dark days and little sunlight. If you take public transport, welcome to an enclosed space of snivelling, germ-harbouring passengers. The list goes on.
Needless to say, the time to reinforce your precious immune system is now. And in the words of MD David Kiefer, “The most promising ways to squash an oncoming cold or flu is with nature.”
Here we present 10 of nature’s best immunity boosters:
Athletes had 40% fewer colds when they took a daily probiotic, found a recent study. Beneficial bacteria in your gut make up a healthy gut flora. These microbes prevent the overgrowth of pathogens, improve digestion and absorption, help synthesize vitamin K, maintain the pH of the gut and keep the immune system properly challenged without being overwhelmed.
This elegant berry is full of antioxidants that lower inflammation and stimulate the immune system, great for shortening the flu – or preventing it. In one study, symptoms resolved 4 days earlier in patients who were given elderberry syrup.
If you’re not getting enough sunlight, or Vitamin D through your diet, taking a supplement might be the best way to go. Vitamin D will help protect against cold and flu by helping cells make much-needed antibodies. Recent studies show that low Vitamin D is linked with an increased risk of respiratory infections.
A 2013 study found that people who ate dried shiitakes showed an increase in immune cells. Whatever variety you choose – enoki, shitake or oyster – Japanese mushrooms are the best. They contain compounds called polysaccharides that help to activate the immune system. They are also loaded with ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant, that does not get destroyed during the cooking process.
5–Our good old friend King Kale!
You need to support your liver to make sure it’s able to detoxify as much as it can and provide a good environment for immune cells that live there. Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli, lettuce and cabbage support your liver and immune function by boosting the liver’s ability to flush out toxins.
6–Amazing these avocados!
Adding avocados to your diet is an easy way to support adrenal function and health and keep your immune system happy. Avocados contain essential amino acids, antioxidants and some healthy fats to help balance hormone production. To attend to your adrenals, try having 1 serving (1/2 cup) per day!
7–Get into gear with ginger!
According to Ayurvedic traditions, ginger warms the body and helps to break down the accumulation of toxins in the organs, particularly in the lungs and sinuses. Ayurveda also believes that ginger helps to cleanse the lymphatic system, which is our body’s sewage system. By helping keep your airways and lymphatics open, ginger may help prevent the accumulation of the toxins that may increase your risk of infection.
8–Clear up a cough with sage
Sage extract works as an expectorant, which helps your body move mucus out of your respiratory tract and helps to calm your cough. As a good alternative to an over-the-counter expectorant, try a drop of sage extract in tea or hot water.
9–The Mother of all baths
A nice hot bath, with Epsom salt or relaxing aromatherapy scents, can go a long way toward reducing our stress – and making us sleepy. Sleep is one of the key ways our bodies repair themselves, and sleep deprivation, reports Mother Earth News, “activates the stress response, depresses immune function and elevates inflammatory chemicals.”
Regular exercise contributes to our overall health in numerous ways, and a healthy body means a smoothly functioning immune system. Some forms of exercise, like tai chi and yoga, are also particularly suited for reducing stress and improving the strength, balance and flexibility that we often lose as we age.
Being educated on what keeps you balanced and healthy is a key element in ensuring you’re immune system is taken care of.
At the School of Natural Health Sciences (SNHS) there are over 60 holistic therapy courses to study including Flower Remedies, Clinical Nutrition, Child & Adolescent Nutrition and Aromatherapy. Join the huge number of ‘online’ students who have been studying for their internationally recognised qualifications in holistic therapies. SNHS has been providing world class training for the last 20 years. Check out our Special Offers on courses this month – great value for money!