It’s sniffly season again, where we inevitably start to think of stocking up on extra soft tissues for noses and lozenges for our throats, but there are ways we can help ourselves to minimise our risk of getting every bug going. Every part of our immune system gets involved when we get hit with the common cold, therefore coming at it from every angle can give us maximum clout at keeping it at bay!
- Eat a rainbow of vegetables with your meals to gain all the antioxidant benefits which are locked away in the oranges, purples and green colours they display. Try adding fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi which may support the immune system by upping our healthy bacteria, as 70%-80% of our immune cells are found in our gut!
- Vitamin C and Zinc have been shown to reduce the duration of a cold, especially if the Zinc is taken within the 24 hours of common down with the symptoms. Citrus fruits, cherries and red peppers are rich sources of Vitamin C and you’ll find Zinc in eggs, red meat, shellfish, ginger root and pecan nuts. Supplements combining both this micronutrients can be helpful at this time, and sucking a Zinc lozenge can give us a double whammy of soothing symptoms and increasing our Zinc levels.
- Vitamin D levels can be lower in the winter months, therefore it is always wise to do a simple test to see where your baseline is before supplementing (we can do this for you!). It has an important role in boosting our immunity by producing bacteria fighting molecules that defend our mucous membranes that line our nose throat and gut from the bacteria attaching. Although you can find Vitamin D in oily fish, mushrooms and egg yolk, and by getting some sunshine,it is recommended that we supplement to our requirement, throughout the winter especially.
- Beta Glucans found in mushrooms and oats have been shown to speed up our immune response to infections which can reduce the severity of inflammation and the duration of the infection – a win win! Supplementing with Beta Glucans may give your immune system the boost it needs.
- Garlic is a great addition to your winter armoury as it is antiviral, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Try adding towards the end of cooking so that the nutritional properties are more potent, or you could even eat it raw! Allicin the active component of garlic can be taken in supplement form and research shows that it has a host of health benefits – one being fighting off viral and bacterial infections.
- Soothe your symptoms with herbal teas and lattes containing ginger, echinacea, elderberry and turmeric. Make sure you stay well hydrated and drink plenty of water which can be difficult when it’s cold and miserable outside, so perhaps try your water warm and add slices of lemon or orange, or a teaspoon of raw honey
- Try to get a good nights sleep as when we are tired and run down that is when we are more prone to pick up colds and coughs. Perhaps bathe in magnesium salts before bed to help you relax.
- Another trick is to keep washing your hands in hot soapy water to stop the germs from spreading from person to person. Carrying a natural antibacterial spray in your handbag or keeping one on the desk at work is another way to key those pesky germs away.