It’s that time of year again when congestion and coughs are floating around. The common cold or influenza are both caused by viral infections. They share similar symptoms with runny nose, sore throat, cough and sinus congestion, however the flu comes with more severe symptoms of muscle aches, fever and fatigue.
None of us have time to be sick, and usually it happens when we can least afford the time off. So, what can you do to give your family the best chance to make it through the winter?
The first step is to work on prevention. Think of your car. If you keep driving your car around, not getting it serviced, never checking the oil and just not looking after it, once a crisis happens like the engine blowing up, it’s not going to help to go back and top up the oil.
Just like our cars, we need to take steps before hand to make sure we are in top working order, ready to overcome any cold or flu virus that comes our way.
Build Your Immune Army
You might be surprised to find that there are more immune cells living in our intestinal cells than any other area of our body. The bacteria that live in our gut are constantly communicating and influencing our immune system. Eating a large range of whole foods including vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes and fermented foods will provide an environment to create a healthy diverse range of supportive bacteria. If you have had antibiotics recently it may also be a good idea to speak to your health professional to get an appropriate probiotic.
Watch Your Stress Dial
Being stressed actually impairs our immune system’s ability to fight off antigens, this leaves us more susceptible to infections. So, whilst taking the time out to relax with stress reducing activities seems stressful in itself, it’s time better spent than the time in bed whilst you struggle to recover from a cold or flu. Doing some daily yoga, meditation or even just taking a bath are great ways to bring down your stress hormones to allow the immune system to function properly.
The Immune Backups
Vitamin C is well known as a potent antioxidant which plays a key role in our immune system defences. Some of the best sources of vitamin C include papaya, broccoli, kiwi fruit, pineapple, oranges, red capsicum and berries.
Zinc is also helps our immune response by deploying infection-fighting white blood cells when an invader such as a virus or bacteria enters our system. To get some more zinc into your diet choose from a variety of meats, eggs, nuts, seeds and seafoods, especially some oysters!
A Naturopaths Big Guns
As well as our important nutrients there are herbs that have been used since ancient times to help treat infections. Echinacea is one that provides immune modulating, antiviral and anti-inflammatory benefits. Scientific evidence has shown it to reduce the risk of recurring upper respiratory tract infections and their complications (1).
Andrographis is a popular herb used by Ayurvedic medicine which has immune enhancing properties. A review of thirty-three randomised control trials found Andrographis to be beneficial and safe in relieving acute upper respiratory tract infections and reducing the time to symptom resolution (2).
High quality, clinically effective supplements and herbs will help to improve your infection-fighting capacity. So, if you often get sick through the cold and flu season or just don’t have time for the knockdown our Naturopath, Tanya Jones, is here to arm you with your winter immune support. Remember prevention is our first step to a healthy and productive winter!