5 great ways to beat colds and flu

When the temperature drops, the chance of you coming down with a cold or the flu increases significantly. It’s widely accepted you’ll get sick more often in the winter. That’s because you’re likely to be inside more and the common cold thrives better in dry air than where there’s humidity. And, when you spend more time indoors, you’re exposed to more germs.

The flu virus is also transmitted much faster when it’s cold out because the lipid (fatty) coating of the virus becomes more resilient the colder it gets.

Your immune system is the most powerful weapon you have against disease. Strong immunity means that the body is better able to fight off viruses and germs.

Fewer colds and sick days this winter would be good, right? There are many diets and lifestyle tweaks you can make to reduce your risk of catching a cold and flu this season (and ensuring it’s shorter and less serious if you do get the lurgy).

Here are my top five tips to keep you fighting fit this month – and beyond.

 

  1. EAT REAL FOOD

Your body needs real, unprocessed food to stay healthy and not the processed foods we kid ourselves are OK for us to eat.

Focus on eating natural, unprocessed food as often as possible. Follow the 80/20 rule (for the avoidance of doubt, this means eating healthily 80% of the time!).

 

Base your diet on whole foods like good quality proteins (eggs, fish, lean meats, nuts and seeds), legumes, whole grains as well as plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit.  Avoid pre-packed, processed foods which are nutrients poor as well as being full of refined sugars, additives and all sorts of artificial ingredients.

 

  1. SPICE THINGS UP!

Adding flavour to food is a smart way to include delicious immune boosters on your plate.

Garlic, for instance, is a potent superfood. It is antimicrobial, thanks to the active ingredient allicin, which helps fight viruses, and has been used for thousands of years to boost the immune system and prevent sickness.

Most culinary herbs contain anti-inflammatory properties due to their phytonutrients, but oregano, parsley and thyme are particularly rich so make sure they appear on your dishes regularly.

Remember to add turmeric, cayenne, and ginger, too, as these are well-documented immune boosters.

 

  1. ENJOY ‘HAPPY TUMMY’ FOODS

Did you know that up to 80% of our immunity to germs and disease is in the gut? The mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) in the gut is part of the first line of immune defence, so getting the right balance between beneficial, or ‘good’ gut bacteria, and the ‘bad’, or potentially pathogenic bacteria, is key.

The gut environment takes a beating year after year, owing to poor diets, too much sugar, stress, antibiotics and other factors. Even if you have no obvious tummy troubles, digestive health is vital, so it’s worth the extra effort to take care of it.

Add probiotic and prebiotic foods to your diet, as these re-populate the gut with good bacteria and feed them well enough to crowd out bad bacteria.

Here are some gut-friendly choices to get you started:

  • Organic, probiotic, natural yoghurt (such as Yeo Valley or Rachel’s)

Always buy full-fat, as the 0% or no-fat options have increased levels of milk sugars – and fat isn’t the enemy, either in life or in weight loss!

  • Miso soup or miso bouillon paste (add these to soups and stews)
  • Oats (soak first, as you would to make overnight oats, to release the goodness)
  • Onions, garlic and Jerusalem artichokes
  • Bananas
  • Beans
  • Cooked, then cooled potatoes

 

  1. VITAMIN C & ZINC

Although it appears that taking vitamin C won’t prevent you from catching a cold, loading up on foods rich in this powerful antioxidant, might still help your body to fight infections and shorten symptoms if you do fall ill.

Broccoli and red peppers contain more C than oranges (contrary to popular belief) and other good sources are: kale, cauliflower, parsley, spinach, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, blackcurrants, kiwi fruit, pineapple, mango, papaya and citrus fruits.

Zinc is also essential to our immune system as it supports the functioning of our infections-fighting white blood cells. Top up your zinc levels by eating more palm-sized pieces of lean meat (especially lamb, beef, venison and turkey), pumpkin seeds, ginger root, green veggies, oats, nuts, sesame seeds, yoghurt and scallops.

 

  1. KEEP HYDRATED

When it comes to hydration, plain water is great. Water flushes germs from your system, helps your blood to carry plenty of oxygen to your body’s cells and allows those cells to absorb important nutrients.

Invest in a filter jug or bottle to avoid quaffing high levels of chlorine and fluorine along with your tap water.

Green tea and chamomile tea are also immune system supporters, as they contain antioxidants that help battle free radicals.

 

  1. SAY NO TO SUGAR

Even if you don’t consider yourself a sugar addict, it’s worth looking at how much you do consume – and trying to swap sugary treats for something more wholesome.

Sugar fans the flames of inflammation and affects the ability of white blood cells to fend off viruses and bacteria. In fact, the immune system stays depressed for hours after consuming sugar, according to recent studies.

Addicted to chocolate? Enjoy raw cocoa hot chocolate on chilly evenings, adding your favourite milk or milk substitutes (with a little xylitol or stevia to sweeten, if you like). A few squares of pure, dark chocolate will also satisfy – Green & Blacks, or any good chocolate with a higher cocoa content (at least 75%), is ideal.

 

One last thing, an age-old way to boost immunity is to follow childhood rules – wash hands, go to bed early and take some exercise.

All these simple measures may seem boring (and more difficult to achieve than popping a pill), but science proves that they work. So, why don’t you give them a go? Your immune system will thank you for it.

 

 Are you the kind of person who is ill more often than other people?  Do you feel your immune system could use some support?  I invite you to book in for a free introductory session with me by calling 07772491975 to find out how nutritional therapy can help you.

Celeriac ribbons tossed with chard, garlic and pumpkin seeds

I love celeriac and this one is one of my favourite recipes, courtesy of BBC Good Food. The original recipe has butter too, but I think it works just as well with only olive oil.

It’s easy and quick to make!

Ingredients: (serves two)

1 small celeriac, peeled

1 lemon

40g pumpkin seeds

2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

4 thyme sprigs (leaves only)

2 chopped cloves of garlic

½ tsp dried chilli flakes

1 bunch chard, leaves shredded and stalks sliced.

20g grated pecorino cheese

 

Using a vegetable peeler, cut some long and wide strips of celeriac, into a bowl of water and lemon juice.

Dry-fry or roast the pumpkin seeds in the oven until they’ve puffed. Set aside.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the celeriac for 1 minute, drain and reserve the water. In a non-stick pan, heat the oil and add the thyme, garlic, and chilli.

When the garlic starts to become golden, add the chard stalks, and stir for another couple of minutes. Add the pumpkin seeds, chard leaves, season and squeeze a little lemon juice. Turn up the heat and add the cheese. Add the celeriac with a slosh of cooking water, shaking the pan until the sauce looks glossy. Divide between plates, and Bon Appetit!

Are you ready for the colds’ season?

62794150 - fresh organic onion, garlic and lemon on jute canvas on old wooden background, healthy nutrition, strengthening immunity and treatment of flu

Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_ratmaner’>ratmaner / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

 

The kids have settled into their school routines, you have put  the summer clothes away and replaced the sandals with boots. You are getting ready to face the colder months, but is your immune system prepared to fight the dreaded flu season?

Follow our healthy tips to boost your immunity and have a cold free winter:

  • Vitamin C: although it appears that taking vitamin c won’t prevent you from catching a cold, loading up on foods rich in this powerful antioxidant, might still help your body to fight infections and shorten symptoms if you do fall ill. Best sources are: citrus fruits, kiwis, berries, peppers, broccoli and kale.
  • Zinc: this mineral is needed for optimal physical performance and energy levels. It is also required for proper functioning of the body’s infection-fighting white blood cells. Best sources are: lean red meat, seafood (especially oysters), whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
  • Eat a whole foods diet: beside vitamin c and zinc, many other nutrients are needed to support the immune system like vitamin A, C, D, E and selenium. Base your diet on whole foods like good quality proteins (eggs, fish, lean meats, nuts and seeds), legumes, whole grains as well as plenty of fresh vegetables and Avoid pre-packed, processed foods which are nutrients poor as well as being full of refined sugars, additives and all sorts of artificial ingredients.
  • Herbs and spices: these contain powerful immune boosting nutrients. Add garlic, oregano, parsley, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne to your cooking regularly.
  • Keep hydrated: as the weather gets colder it is easy to forget to drink but keeping hydrate is vital to help the body to fight any harmful viruses and stave off colds for longer. Drink filtered or bottled water and experiment with some warming herbal teas like lemon and ginger, apple, cinnamon, orange peel, and cardamom.
  • Sleep: remember that the body repairs and rejuvenates during sleep, so not getting enough sleep increases our chances of falling ill. Try to have dinner early at least two, better three, hours before bedtime and keep all electronic devices away from the bedroom to ensure a restful night.

Remember that chronic stress can weaken the immune system and make us more vulnerable to diseases, so take some time every day to have some fun and enjoy life! This can be just 20 minutes of playing with your kids when they get back from school, going for a quick walk with your dog or enjoying a cuddle with your partner at the end of the day.

It doesn’t really matter what you do, but it is important to take some time to switch off from our busy lives and reconnect to nature and/or with each others ……so please switch off the mobile phones too during these precious moments!

Please note, we do not recommend the use of supplements without seeking professional advice first, as doing so could be harmful. Call 07772491975 for personalized advice on how nutrition can help support your immune system.