Simple immune boosting tips to slay the final of the winter nasties
Spring into the new season – and keep colds and flu at bay – with these simple tips from Naturopath, Emily Macgregor.
Despite the smell of spring in the air, the last of the cold and flu season is still with us, with recent reports suggesting that Australia is in the grip of its worst flu outbreak on record in 2017.
To help you stay well as we move into spring, here are some simple health tips from a naturopath.
Daily tips to battle cold and flu viruses
- Wash and dry hands thoroughly periodically during the day. Cold and flu viruses are spread by direct contact and can be transmitted via a surface touched by someone who is ill and has sneezed into their hand.
- Try to avoid touching your face when you’re in public places or around sick people.
- When possible, open windows to allow fresh air to circulate, and get outside into direct sunlight for a few minutes each day.
- Regularly disinfect commonly used surfaces like keyboards, phones, doorknobs, and counters at both work and at home.
- Ensure your diet is high in fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrains and seeds, particularly pumpkin seeds (high in zinc), protein from lean meat, organic chicken and fish. Try and avoid fried foods, high sugar foods and other ‘junk’ food.
- Talk to your pharmacist about the possibility of taking appropriate nutritional supplements.
- Limit your alcohol consumption, as it stresses the liver and dehydrates the body.
- Reduce stress by practicing relaxation techniques, exercising or listening to music.
- Get plenty of regular exercise. Aerobic exercise speeds up the heart, increases breathing rate and oxygen transfer and stimulates sweating – all of which increases the body’s natural virus-killing cells.
Lifestyle changes to help boost your immunity
Smile and laugh
The wonderful thing about letting out a hearty laugh is that it decreases the amount of stress hormones in the body, while increasing a type of white blood cell that fights infection.
Laughing and smiling – whether artificial or real – makes your body think it is happy and may, in effect, boost your mood and immune system. Everyone wants to be happy, so do yourself a favour and promote a healthier body by wearing a smile.
If stress suppresses the immune system, then anything that reduces your stress levels can help boost your body’s ability to heal itself. Lowering levels of cortisol in the blood may improve sleep and boost the immune system and can be easily achieved by practicing meditation or other relaxation techniques.
Meditation need not be intimidating – just relax and strive to quiet your mind for 5-15 minutes a day. You could also try listening to a guided meditation app, focusing on all the positives in your life, or just ‘watching’ your thoughts and practicing ‘letting go’.
Surround yourself with loved ones
Having strong relationships has been shown to boost physical and mental health – and improve the immune system in the process. Several studies support the idea that people who feel connected to friends – whether a small or large group – have stronger immunity than those who feel alone.
Fatigue increases your susceptibility to illness. A lab experiment at the University of Chicago demonstrated that by limiting test subjects’ sleep to just four hours and then giving them a flu vaccine, their immune systems only produced half the normal number of antibodies. Like stress, insomnia can cause a rise in inflammation – and similarly an increase in cortisol. Boost your immune system by getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
Supplements that support immunity
Fads in natural health come and go, but Vitamin C has been there for us since it was officially discovered in the 1930s – and for good reason!
Vitamin C is an ‘essential’ nutrient that the body obtains through dietary sources.
Vitamin C stimulates the production and function of white blood cells, and may help protect against viral infections, such as colds and flu. Vitamin C is necessary for maintaining a healthy respiratory tract and may protect us against the effects of allergens, irritants and viral infections.
Good food sources include capsicum, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, papaya, broccoli, tomatoes, sweet potato, kiwi fruit and spinach. However supplementation is often advisable to reach a therapeutic dose that is ideal for maximum immune protection.
Dark purple in colour, the bioflavonoids and other proteins in the berry juice destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell. Elderberry has fast gained a following, especially during the winter months for its ability to protect against and reduce symptoms of colds and flu, and other bacterial and viral infections.
Astragalus membranaceus has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. It is often combined with other herbs to strengthen the body against disease.
Astragalus has immuno-stimulant, antioxidant and antiviral properties and has become one of the most popular of the TCM herbs now used to support immunity. It has both a general stimulant effect on the immune system, as well as specific antiviral activity.
Astragalus is effective taken as a single herb, but when in a formula with other immune supportive herbs, can cover a wider range of symptoms.
Is world renowned for its immune boosting properties as both a medicinal herb and a food.
Garlic has antimicrobial activity that helps fight the bugs that cause colds and flu. It also aids in the relief of congestion and sinus symptoms.
Garlic is one of the few herbs that can be found across the three major traditional healing systems in the world – Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Traditional European Medicine.
Brought to you by Blooms Health Products
Written by Emily Macgregor, Naturopath
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