Keeping colds at bay
At this time of year it can feel like a cold is inevitable. But there are simple ways to keep yourself fighting fit, and to help you recover if you do get the lurgy.
We're exposed to cold viruses all the time, but if we're generally healthy, they should only take hold once or twice a year. If you get them more often or find them difficult to shift, it can be a sign that your immune system is weakened.
Keeping your immune system healthy is your best bet for protecting yourself and recovering more quickly. Here's how:
Drink lots or water, herbal teas and clear broths. Being well hydrated keeps the respiratory tract moist, which helps to repel viral infections. Hydration also improves the ability of white blood cells to fight bacteria and viruses. Homemade clear chicken and vegetable broths can help soothe a sore throat, ease congestion and manage inflammation.
BOOST VITAMIN C
Vitamin C supports the immune system and is anti-viral, so it has benefits in both preventing and supporting the body to fight colds. Eat a range of Vitamin C rich foods daily - not just when you feel the dreaded tickle at the back of your throat: berries, citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit), kiwis, pineapple, papaya, bell peppers and dark green leafy veg like chard, kale, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, rocket, brussels sprouts and cauliflower.
Vitamin C is heat and oxygen unstable, which means it is lost when exposed to air or when cooked. So eat fruit and veg when fresh and soon after chopping. Lightly steam veg to retain the most nutrients.
GET YOUR ZINC
Zinc is anti-viral and works with Vitamic C to support the immune system in fighting off infections. As well as oysters (which are famously high in zinc but maybe not the most practical everyday source!) there are many other Zinc-rich foods you can easily include in your diet. Try pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and tahini, cashews, almonds, pecans, brazil nuts, beef, lamb, liver and poultry, fresh ginger and egg yolks.
Sugar competes with Vitamin C to get into cells. Remember that sugar is naturally present in fruit, honey and fruit juices, so although gulping down orange juice might feel like it's good for your cold, you'll be better off drinking herbal teas and water.
If you do get a cold the best thing you can do to help you recover is rest. Immune function is increased during deep sleep, so surrender to your runny nose and get into bed!
Reference: M Murray & J Pizzorno, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Third Edition)