We’ve still got a fair few weeks of cold temperatures, frequent rain and dark nights ahead of us, and lurgy season is in full swing. If you’ve already been struck by the common flu, or are desperately trying to ward it off, there are several natural ways to boost your immune system and protect yourself.
On average, Brits suffer from four colds every year. The medical advice we will often receive from our GP is to get plenty of rest and stay hydrated, allowing the body to heal naturally. But with our lives becoming increasingly busy and time being truly of the essence, we are constantly seeking ways to speed up the recovery process.
Nutritionist Sarah Flower has explored natural remedies, some of which have been around for hundreds of years, for the common cold and reveals the best ways to accelerate your recovery without reaching for the prescription pills.
Chicken soup is not just good for the soul
Our grandmothers really did know best, as this is an excellent remedy. In fact, there are mentions of chicken broth being used by physicians in ancient Greece. They would make a broth using the bones of meat or poultry, add any left-over vegetables and cook slowly for a nourishing meal. Bone stock is packed full of nutrients, including gelatine, collagen and a whole host of vitamin and minerals to help heal and get you back on your feet. Chilli also acts as a natural decongestant, so add some of the fiery pepper plant, turmeric, cinnamon and fresh ginger to speed up your metabolism too!
A Hot Toddy to protect your body
Hot Toddies date back to the 1700’s, traditionally made with spirit, honey and a range of spices. More commonly now, we opt for brandy, honey and lemon to fight off our colds.The brandy helps you sleep, the honey soothes the throat and the lemon adds the much needed vitamin C. Lemon also helps clear the nasal passages from lingering germs. The jury is still out on whether this has scientific evidence to tackle colds, but it is definitely on my list when I am suffering.
A clove a day to keep the germs away
Garlic has a long-standing history and reputation for keeping winter bugs at bay. In the 1500s people were advised to apply a poultice of garlic and onion to their throats in order to cure their ailments. Thankfully we have now moved on and can easily add garlic to our meals or even take a daily supplement. Garlic does have anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-catarrhal properties so is definitely a great addition to your cold and flu armoury.
A breath of fresh air
Our ancestors used to take patients outdoors for at least an hour every day, no matter how sick they were. There is a good reason behind this and the reason is vitamin D, which helps to prevent the flu and can also regulate our immune response. We are now aware that a large number of Brits are lacking the recommended levels of vitamin D, especially throughout the winter months. To gain adequate exposure to the sun’s UVB rays, you need to be in natural light for at least 15 minutes per day. For those unable to do so, a great alternative is opting for vitamin D3 supplements. Taking one daily not only boosts the immune system and fights infection, but can also help with depression, as well as bone, joint and heart health.
Prevention is better than cure
This sounds obvious, but there are measures we can all implement to help prevent catching the common virus in the first place. We have gone through quite a history of trying to avert our symptoms; from using carbolic smoke balls, to Iodine lockets hung round the neck in the early 20th century. Hospitals used to have Brass handles on the doors to stop the transmission of germs as it effectively disinfects itself. We have adopted the use of disposable tissues and antibacterial hand gel which we can carry on us and use regularly to prevent the spread of germs.
Give your diet a boost
Even with our best intentions, it can be hard getting all the nutrients we need by eating a perfectly balanced diet. Give yourself a helping hand by incorporating the following in your diet or daily supplementation:
I always recommend including plenty of zinc-rich foods in your diet, such as pumpkin seeds, spinach, beef, wheat germ and cocoa. You can also take a good quality supplement such as a Zinc Citrate daily.
We know that vitamin C can help fight infection, so increasing our intake by eating plenty of berries, citrus fruits, papayas, broccoli and red peppers will help keep us protected, all year long. You can also take vitamin c supplements, either in powder or tablet form to boost the effects.
New Era Q and J
An excellent all in one remedy that literally melts in the mouth, these mineral tissue salts have all the added minerals to help you ward off those infuriating symptoms. It has the added advantage that it is very safe for children, making it my go-to product for my entire family. I would highly recommend New Era Q for those who have inflammation of the mucus membranes such as catarrh or sinus disorders and New Era J for more general cold symptoms including nose, throat and chest. When taken together, they offer the ultimate protection against colds and flu. (Available to buy from powerhealth.co.uk for £8.79 each)
This is a herbal remedy that does pack a punch and helps with respiratory infections, sore throats and general cold and flu symptoms. Take this remedy as soon as you begin to feel the onset of illness and continue until you are showing signs of improvement. Although natural, I would not advise this for children under 12 years old.
Credit: Picture via Yummysupper.blogspot.co.uk