Winter Immunity Tips

Cold and flu season is back again, so it is time to make some healthy lifestyle changes to enhance our immunity. With strong immunity we can hopefully avoid getting sick or get over a cold in just a few days.

What Causes Colds?

The common cold viruses cause general symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes and nose, sore throats, congestion and coughs.  Influenza viruses tend to give rise to more serious symptoms such as body aches, fatigue, high fevers and headaches.  Complications from respiratory infections can include sinusitis, ear infections and bronchitis.  While the common cold can be managed safely at home, other respiratory infections that are prolonged or more serious in nature should be diagnosed and treated by a health care professional.

Is There a Cure?

While there is no known ‘cure’ for a common cold virus, there are many ways to improve your immune function and thus help the body fight the virus.  By taking action early on when you first get symptoms, you are more likely to reduce the severity of the disease.  Try to avoid taking medicines to reduce fever – as a fever is one of your body’s defences to a virus.  Raising the core temperature of the body kills many viruses and bacteria and also increases the immune cell’s activity.

We have many wonderful immune boosting herbs – including Echinacea, Andrographis and Cat’s Claw. These all can help both prevent as well as treat colds and influenza.  My personal favourite is Elderberry which has a potent antiviral action.  If you or your kids are suffering from regular colds or are not bouncing back quickly, then maybe it is time for a consult and I can prescribe some great herbs courtesy of mother nature’s medicine chest.

Food for Immunity

Generally, it is good to eat quite lightly when sick to enable the body to put energy into fighting the infection rather than digesting heavy meals.  Focus on lots of simple foods like steamed vegies, broths, fish and fresh fruits.  Other  foods to include in the diet  when you have a cold or flu virus are garlic and ginger as well as vitamin C rich fruits such as berries, parsley and citrus (including the pith).  Chicken soup made with homemade chicken broth is sometimes called the Jewish penicillin and interestingly research has confirmed the immune boosting quality of this soup. Click here to get my recipe for broth. You can also do a vegan or vegetarian version, which on top of the standard vegetable base, includes adding nutritious goodies such as seaweed and shiitake mushrooms which are wonderful for our immune system as well. There is so much research coming out about the medicinal mushrooms and I often prescribe these for immune deficiency and also convalescence….

Don’t Forget to Convalesce

Rest is an essential part of the immune equation, so we need to reclaim the lost art of convalescing.  We expect to be able to keep going no matter what and so many pharmaceuticals are aimed at removing the symptoms so we can get back to work or school as soon as possible.  What our bodies really need though is simple – rest and sleep to enable healing to take place.  Proper convalescing now will mean we bounce back stronger rather than getting the next virus doing the rounds.

Keep warm and stay healthy!  Karen