Here are some tipsand foods to help you ward off those nasty colds and flu this winter. Everyone is exposed to viruses everyday, help your body fight them off naturally.
Foods to fight Colds and Flu
Garlic has a variety of beneficial effects on the immune system. It induces white blood cell activity, boost your immune defences to fight off both bacteria and viruses.
Berries are a rich source of proanthocyanidins, which are potent antioxidants. One berry in particular, Elderberry has been found to inhibit viral binding to cells and reduce the severity and duration of viral infection such as influenza. Other berries such as blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackcurrants also contain cyanidins. Blackcurrant has been shown to inhibit influenza virus in in vitro testing and blackberries protect against inflammation of the lung pleura. A great start to a wintery morning is some organic oats with a mix of these berries on top!
Green Tea contains catechins and theanine which have been found to reduce the incidence of influenza infection amongst aged care workers. Green Tea catechins may affect enzymes found within the virus responsible for its binding and replication capability.
Medicinal mushrooms such as Reishi, Shiitake, Enoki, Maitake and Oyster contain long chain polysaccharides called beta-glucans which have been found to be potent immune enhancers. Beta-glucans stimulate white blood cells of the immune system involved in breaking down bacteria, and have an anti-inflammatory effect. Mushrooms can easily be added to stir fries, winter soups, pies, pasta and omelettes.
Red, Yellow & Orange Vegetables
Rich in antioxidant nutrients, lycopene, betacarotene and vitamin C, the red, yellow and orange coloured vegetables are a great support to immune function. Red capsicum contains almost 3 times more vitamin C than oranges and can be used in a wide variety of dishes! Other great nutrient rich vegetables include pumpkin, sweet potato, squash, beetroot, radishes, red onion, chillies and carrots. Vitamin C increases the number of circulating immunoglobulins, which are antibodies that attach to the pathogen to help the immune system identify and destroy it. Supplementation increases the activity of neutrophils, which act to identify and destroy both bacterial and viral pathogens and increase their vitamin C concentrations. Many of these vegetables can be juiced as well as cooked, so get colourful with your vegetables to support your immune health.
Tips to Boost Immunity
1. Check your house for mould
Mould is often overlooked as an potential health risk and it can often be unseen anywhere in the home. Chronic long term or repeated infections especially in children can often be aggravated if not caused by mould in the home.
2. Drink Plenty of Water
During summer it is easier to drink water but in winter however we often don’t drink enough water and can become dehydrated. The body needs water ato remove waste from the body and to transport minerals in and out of the cells. When the body lacks water it has to work hardier to get oxygenated blood to the cells, A good way to increase our water intake during the cooler months is through herbal teas which also have their own added health bene ts. Fresh ginger and lemon tea can help to stimulate the liver to eliminate toxins, it is warming and has a number of immune boosting properties. This tea is antibacterial which can aid in a sore throat, is anti-viral, and has a number of digestive bene ts as well. Avoid adding sugar to your tea, use good quality Australian Jelly Bush honey (the Australian equivalent to NZ Manuka honey) instead as this has added antimicrobial effects.
3. Eat Healthy
In the cooler months we tend to crave warmer, richer, denser foods to help keep our bodies warm. Sweet potato and carrots contain betacarotene which can be converted to vitamin A to help prevent and fight off infections by enhancing the the immune system. Onions contain flavonoids, particularly quercetin which is a powerful antioxidant, which has both a anti-histamine and anti- inflammatory effect. Onions and garlic are both rich in sulphur-containing compounds which have an anti-bacterial effect. Foods such as soups, casseroles and stir fries are great winter dishes that plenty of nutritious vegetables.
Regular, moderate intensity exercise can boost the immune system. When possible get outside to exercise. It is often difficult to step outside in the cold to go for a brisk walk however the fresh air is a better alternative to the recycled, air inside a gym.
5. Good Hygiene
It’s the little things we do or don’t do that can contribute to the spread of infectious diseases. Remember to wash your hands, cover your nose/mouth when coughing or sneezing and dispose of used tissues..