To keep winter bugs at bay, it’s important to look after your body from the inside out. Here are my tried and tested tips for strengthening your immune system and fighting off colds and flu.
- PROBIOTIC FOODS, DRINKS AND SUPPLEMENTS: good gut bacteria is the first step towards a strong immune system. Fermented food and drinks like sauerkraut, kimchee, kombucha and kefir drinks reintroduce beneficial bacteria into the gut. You can either make these at home if you’re brave or pick them up at your health food store - look for raw unpasteurised and organic products to pack the best punch. You can always take a course of appropriate probiotic supplements, but it’s worth investing in the best ones you can afford.
- INCREASE NATURAL ANTIBIOTICS...there are some fabulous natural herbs that can be used to treat both bacterial and viral infections. Echinacea has been the focus of many medical studies and I have found it works so well to prevent colds and reducing their recurrence and lessening the length and severity of a cold. Take the drops with water 4-5 times a day on acute symptoms or at the very start of a cold. I personally use A Vogel's brand .
- ELDERBERRY has been shown to be very effective as a flu treatment. It works best when started within 2 days of the symptoms starting. It’s super high in antioxidants and has powerful anti-viral, anti inflammatory actions. This works for all ages, but a syrup is easiest for kids to take - a typical dosage for flu treatment is 1 tbspn three times daily for adults and 1 tspn three times daily for children. I like Pukka's version. You can add it to water or juice.
- GARLIC AND GINGER are nature’s gift to our immune system with their multi tasking natural antibiotic, anti fungal, anti microbial and anti inflammatory properties. You can add lots of extra garlic to your cooking, especially in bone broth based soups and stews. You could ramp up the ginger in fresh green juices or smoothies which would also give you a nice nutrient boost. Or grate a tspn of ginger root into hot water, steep for 5 mins then strain the ginger, add fresh squeezed lemon and raw/manuka honey to taste, let it cool then drink to soothe your symptoms. Add some fresh turmeric for an even more powerful punch.
- BONE BROTH: There has been a resurgence in the kind of bone based stocks that our grandparents traditionally made and ate regularly. There is a very good reason why they are so fashionable again. This home made broth is truly like liquid gold for your immunity - it will nourish and restore the gut lining, replenish good bacteria, improve immunity, digestion and increase nutrient absorption. We now know that 80% of our immunity lies in the digestive tract, so it’s crucial that we take care of it as our health literally depends on it. You need to use grass fed/organic animal bones otherwise you will taking on board the antibiotics, growth hormones and other chemicals that the animal may have been given. Check out www.hemsleyandhemsley.com for their easy recipe and how to incorporate it into everyday cooking. Consume as much as you can during illness, but try to take it often to maintain optimal health. If you don't have time to make it from scratch, a good ready bought is Ossa's available online.
- REST, REST, REST: Sleep is how the body repairs and heals, and we now know that when we’re sleep deprived, our immune fighting t-cells decrease and our inflammatory cytokines go up. So we need our sleep to fight off viruses and infection. Plus staying away from the general public when we’re contagious is a good idea - stopping infections spreading meaning we’d get sick less in the first place!
- EXERCISE DAILY Exercise helps jump start the immune system and therefore the body's defense against infections. One study reported in the American Journal of Medicine showed that women who walked for half an hour a day for one year had half the number of colds as women who didn't exercise.
- DRINK PLENTY OF FILTERED WATER. Water helps carry nutrients to the cells of the body as well as getting disease fighting white blood cells to where they’re most needed. As well as helping to flush toxins out. Aim for at least 8 glasses/ 1.5-2 litres of tepid water a day. Just keep a big bottle on your desk at work/by your sick bed as a reminder.
I hope you’ve found these tips useful, but if you need further in depth professional advice about this or any other topic, then please get in touch to book an appointment today. I look forward to meeting with you soon!