Boost your immunity, naturally
A weakened immune system may not repel invading organisms efficiently, making infections, colds and flu more likely. Here’s how to supercharge your immune system to ward off winter bugs.
Head off a head cold
Dietary approaches include avoiding sugar and taking supplements. Sugar interferes with white blood cells’ ability to destroy bacteria, and animal studies show that a diet high in sucrose (table sugar) impairs aspects of immune function. Eat more raw fruit and vegetables. Health-promoting enzymes and vitamins are destroyed when food is heated, and cooked food may cause acidity in the body, which taxes immunity.
Think beyond salads: have a green smoothie of leafy greens – kale, chard, dandelion greens, parsley – plus a pear or apple for breakfast. Nutrients which increase immune function include zinc, especially for people prone to recurrent infections, and vitamin C, which elevates levels of infection-fighting interferon. When choosing a vitamin C supplement, buy one with added bioflavonoids, which have been shown to increase the effectiveness of vitamin C by up to a third.
Bring on the flu fighters
During the cold and flu season, take 200mg of echinacea up to three times a day. Alternate it with other herbs that boost the immune system, such as goldenseal and pau d’arco. Add fresh, raw, local honey to food and herb teas for its antibacterial and antiviral properties. Propolis – the resinous substance that bees collect from plants and use to sterilise honeycomb cells and seal cracks and holes in the hive to protect it from bacterial, viral and fungal invaders – is a powerful immune booster.
Scientist and Comvita chief technical officer Ralf Schlothauer adds, “Studies show propolis has high levels of active bioflavonoids, providing immune support and antioxidant properties.” Take it as a cold preventive, or to relieve symptoms. Comvita have a great tonic that contains high grade manuka honey, propolis, and echinacea.
Nip it in the bud
As soon as you notice cold or flu symptoms:
* Take one 200mg astragalus capsule twice daily until you recover. This ancient Chinese herb stimulates the immune system and is highly effective in fighting flu.
* Take 20-30 drops of elderberry tincture 3-4 times a day. Long used in Europe to fight viruses, studies show people who took it recovered significantly faster.
* Naturopaths recommend Oscillococcinum, a homoeopathic remedy for reducing severity of flu symptoms.
* Suck on a zinc gluconate lozenge every few hours. One study showed that this cut symptom duration by three days.
* Probiotics are not just for digestive health; they also support immunity. Top up your intake with fermented foods – miso, yoghurt, kefir, tempeh, and sauerkraut.
Detox your home
Scarily, your home may be the cause of low immunity, chronic respiratory symptoms and fatigue. The World Health Organisation states, “Exposure to dampness and mould in buildings are strong indicators for risk of respiratory symptoms with negative health outcomes,” adding that, “for the medical professions a lack of awareness of environmental triggers of disease is a major challenge.”
To get rid of mould:
* Fix any problems causing rising damp, poor ventilation or excessive condensation.
* Open all windows whenever possible.
* Clean mould off walls and surfaces – add ¼ teaspoon of clove oil per litre of water to a spray bottle, leave overnight, then wipe off. Clove’s volatile oil, eugenol, is a powerful antibacterial and antiseptic and kills mould spores.
* Use a dehumidifier, especially in your bedroom. Strip the bed, open wardrobes and drawers, and leave it on for a day to suck up any moisture in the air - mould cannot survive without moisture.