Cold and flu season is fast approaching and it’s important for us to avoid those nasty germs at all costs. Making sure you have the best protection from illness is essential and if you do happen to catch something, getting well as soon as possible is a priority. Eating well is the best way to start. Including the right nutrients and foods in your diet will help you to improve your immune system before and during sickness and keep you active all winter long.
1. Chicken Soup
Those age-old cures still come out on top. Chicken soup has long been a go-to food for when we’re feeling tired and sickly and there are reasons why. Hot chicken soup helps to aid nasal secretions which help your body to get rid of viruses and bacteria. The soup also provides much needed hydration and the warmth helps to open up your airwaves to keep you breathing easy and sleeping soundly.
Yoghurts are a tasty and healthy snack with natural antibodies. Probiotic yoghurts contain what we call “good bacteria” which can help to boost your immune system and improve digestion. The bacteria has been found to block the replication of viruses in our bodies when we get ill. Not all yoghurts have these bacteria so check the label for a “Live & Active Cultures” seal from the National Yogurt Association.
3. Vitamin D
This essential vitamin keeps your bones strong and healthy and it also aids the prevention against flu. It is thought that vitamin D helps to strengthen innate immunity (which prevents illness). It increases the amounts of good immune proteins. As many people don’t get enough vitamin D, most experts recommend a vitamin supplement over the winter period. You can also get it (in small doses) from fatty fish, such as salmon, and fortified milk—and your body makes vitamin D from the sun.
Mushrooms are not everyone’s favourite food but no herbal medicine cabinet should be without them. They increase the production of cytokines and ergothioneine which help fight off infection. They also contain polysaccharides, which are compounds that support the immune system. The best varieties are not the everyday ones you can buy in the corner shop. Shitake, maitake and reishi are the recommended types.
5. Onions and Garlic
If you want to add a healing boost to your dishes, add some onions and garlic. When combined, these tasty healers contain numerous antiseptic and immunity boosting compounds. As an added extra, garlic helps to open clogged sinuses.
Ginger is a super food which can help to fight illness is many ways. It can help to supress coughing and soothe a sore throat. It also has chemicals which target cold viruses and is a natural pain and fever reliever. The mild sedative allows you to sleep easier which can be difficult when you don’t feel your best. Adding fresh ginger to your food or enjoying a cup of ginger tea before bed time can make the world of difference and having you resting easy.
Honey has been used since ancient times to treat numerous conditions. It protects against damage caused by bacteria. Some honey also stimulates production of special cells that can repair tissue damaged by infection. Honey has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties to help fight infections from viruses and bacteria. Try adding a teaspoon to your yoghurt or ginger tea. Not all types of honey are the same and some have much more antibacterial benefits. Try manuka and buckwheat honey for the best results.
8. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits are packed full of vitamin C which is an essential vitamin for building your immunity against viruses and bacteria. Vitamin C has been shown to decrease the length of time and severity of symptoms that you experience with colds and flu. Try a glass of fresh orange juice with your breakfast and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice in your tea.
Heading down to the chemist and doctors every week for cold and flu medicine can be exhausting and often leaves you feeling as though there is nothing you can do. Sometimes the solution is right in front of you and can be achieved naturally. Follow these tips for a happy, healthy season.