Winter is definitely here and so is the flu season – they go hand in hand for so many people, but why is that? Well, it is not that the cold weather impairs the immune system, rather it appears that viruses prefer cold and dry conditions, they are able to spread more easily. There are more than 200 strains of common cold viruses that cause fever, generalised fatigue and sore throat followed by the stuffy/runny nose and cough. They are transmitted via airborne droplets, such as sneezing, or by direct contact with infected secretions, such as a runny nose. The typical symptoms of a viral cough, cold or flu can take a hold in the winter months and their success depends on the strength of your immune system. Over the years you will have been exposed to many common cold viruses and your immune system can remember them and fight them when they attempt to attack you again.
So how do you keep your immune system in fighting form? Firstly let’s look at foods.
A wholesome diet eating foods that are rich in micro nutrients (vitamins, minerals, good oils, fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals) are what build your health. Avoid junk foods, fast foods and processed foods, soft drinks and sugar as they contain empty calories and have no nutritional value, infact they cause an acid body which in turn creates inflammation!
Here are some ideas for some nutrient rich meals:
Breakfast: why not try a smoothie, my favourite is a green one which will give you plenty of micro-nutrients to support your immune system and lots of energy too.
Start with half an avocado, add a peeled lime, a peeled kiwi, some cucumber, 2 handfuls of spinach and either some almond milk or coconut water. Blend it all together and there you have it! You could add some other low fructose fruits such as a few blueberries or strawberries or a slice of melon to make it sweeter, or if that still is too sharp add a little truvia, a natural sugar.
You do not need to add any cow’s milk, it contains hormones and antibiotics which upset the immune system and dairy is one of the leading causes of allergies in children and adults!
Lunch: first you should be thinking of vegetables or a big green salad. Green vegetables are alkaline and if you can keep your body alkaline, viruses and bacteria cannot exist there! You could make a chunky vegetable soup and have a small piece of granary or rye bread which is low glycaemic. For a little protein have some salmon, sardines or some chicken or turkey.
Don’t forget your water or in this cold weather have a mug of herbal or fruit tea.
Dinner: start your dinner with a small green salad as a first course, then have a small portion of meat or fish and plenty of vegetables, especially green ones. If you feel you would like potatoes go for new ones as they are low glycaemic, but not too many as they are acidic.
Dessert: So you are still craving that sweetness at the end of the meal. Well sugar weakens your immune system so try some fruit instead. Cut up some strawberries with blueberries or a kiwi, they are all low in sugar and have plenty of antioxidants to boost immunity.
Physical fitness immune system strength: if you exercise regularly you will have fewer winter colds or flu, so says the scientific literature. It seems that it strengthens your white blood cells. However there is a limit, because too much has been shown to break down the immune system!
Now here are some other preventative remedies.
Extra water and fluids: Drink at least 1-2 litres of water a day, freshly squeezed juices, fresh lime or lemon water, herbal or fruit teas and clear soup broths. Avoid dairy foods, fizzy drinks and alcohol.
Sleep: Make sure you get to bed early and give yourself plenty of sleep before midnight to allow the body to recoup.
Stress free: this is so important for keeping your immune system strong. Good feelings enhance it, stress does the opposite. So forming good strong relationships and friendships and having fun will help. Avoid stressful situations.
Blockbuster: contains pycnogenol one of the most powerful supplements with a history of well-documented research. It is made from the bark of a white pine and contains strong antioxidants. Research confirms that Pycnogenol is 50 times more powerful than Vitamin E in its antioxidant properties and 20 times more powerful than Vitamin C.
It also contains Grapeseed Extract which is a concentrated source of oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC). These anti-oxidants help protect cells from free radical damage and also promote healthy circulation.
Blockbuster also contains a powerful collection of enzymes, including serrapeptase, that work as anti inflammatories.
Once the bug has taken a hold there are things that you can take to knock it on the head quickly.
Zinc: this supplement has been studied and has shown to be significantly beneficial in cutting the duration and severity of the virus, almost in half, when taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms.
Vitamin C at high doses: take 3,000mg three times a day to really knock the cold on the head!
Steam inhalations: these used with essential oils such as eucalyptus, camphor, rosemary or pine can be helpful.
Sore throat relief: salt water gargles using ¼ – ½ tsp of salt in a cup of warm water is alkalising and very soothing.
Complex homeopathic remedies: there are several that can help with bacteria and viruses such as Flu-tone, viru-chord, bacteria-chord and inflamma-tone.
So, stay strong during the winter months and avoid the nasty flu bugs. If you do succumb then there are things that you can do to knock it on the head as quickly as possible. Try it, it really works!