By Claire Barnes
Life is busy and we’re constantly on-the-go, so when a cold or flu hits, we want to be back up on our feet as quickly as possible. Whilst our first thought might be to head to the pharmacy and grab the latest winter remedy, there may be some other therapies that will not only have you feeling better quicker, but also help to support your immune system to help prevent further cold and flu attacks.
1- ELDERBERRY SYRUP
A great supplement to keep in the fridge and take throughout the winter to help prevent respiratory infections or to take when you notice the first sniffle or sore throat emerging. Not only does it taste great and soothes an irritated throat, but it is also rich in vitamins C and polyphenols like anthocyanins which have antiviral effects.
If you don’t have elderberry syrup, other berry beverages could also be of benefit. Frozen berries such as blackberries and cranberries can be heated up with Manuka honey and filtered water and left to simmer before blending. Once cooled, pour into a sterilized jar and keep in the fridge over the winter season. Take one to two teaspoons each morning as a preventative or when you notice the first signs of a cold or flu arising.
2- FERMENTED FOODS
Did you know that approximately 70% of our immune cells are located in the gut? By improving the health of our gut through maintaining our gut barrier defense and improving the balance of our gut microbiome, we could actually help to fight off infections before they get a chance to set off an immune reaction.
Fermented foods are a great way to increase the beneficial bacteria in the gut, which help to inhibit harmful bacteria and viruses and maintain the integrity of the gut lining. Traditionally, these foods would have been eaten daily as these were how we once preserved our foods. Today, we rely on fridges and freezers and so many Western diets are lacking in beneficial bacteria. Fortunately, there has been a resurgence in preparing and consuming fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi and kombucha.
If you can’t face the thought of consuming fermented foods while feeling poorly, you could opt for a live bacteria supplement instead. Choose one that has multiple strains which may help inhibit more viruses and harmful microbes, such as Bio-Kult Advanced (RRP £9.48) which contains 14 different strains.
3- BAREFOOT WALKING
This may not be the first thing you think of when you’re feeling poorly, but there is some evidence that connecting the body to the earth (earthing), such as in barefoot walking, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on the body. It has been shown that earthing accelerates immune response following vaccination and has anti-inflammatory effects and improvements in the immune response necessary for recovery from colds and flu.
Whilst this may not be practical for walking down the street, you may want to give it a go in the back garden or find a quiet spot in a local park. You may even be able to find a local guide in your area.
4- EUCALYPTUS OIL
A few drops on your pillow before going to sleep, added to a vaporizer or even in a steamy bath could help to clear mucous and help you to breathe easier.
5- COCONUT OIL
All that nose blowing can leave the delicate skin around the nose irritated and inflamed. Smooth on some coconut oil to soothe and act as an anti-microbial, helping to rebalance the skins natural microbiome.
Whilst it’s a good idea to wash hands more frequently when suffering with a cold or flu to help reduce the risk of spreading, this too can leave skin dry irritated and inflamed. Massaging coconut oil into hands after washing them can help restore moisture. Additionally, in Aurevedic medicine, massaging oil into hands and feet is also claimed to help lead to better sleep.
There’s no need to buy expensive skin-specific coconut oil, you should be able to find jars of organic virgin coconut oil in most grocery stores, located near the vegetable oils.
6- BONE BROTH
Often overlooked in today’s fast-paced society, but this may have been your granny’s go-to ‘pick-me-up’ when feeling under the weather. Bone broth is made by using the leftover organic meat or fish bones and putting them into a slow cooker, adding water to cover. Vegetables and herbs can also be added for flavor and additional nutrients. Leave to simmer for at least 48 hours, strain and consume as a hot drink or add to soups and stews. As well as plenty of vitamins and minerals, bone broth contains butyrate, glutamine and collagen all known for healing and maintaining the gut lining. As our first line of defense against infection, helping to keep the gut healthy could help ward off infections and reduce inflammation.
Garlic has been used as a traditional medicine for centuries. It has antiviral, antibiotic, and antimicrobial properties. Garlic has been shown to relieve cold symptoms, shorten a cold’s duration, and naturally boost the immune system. You can take supplements, but garlic is most effective when it’s eaten raw. Crush up a clove and let it sit out for 15 minutes. This allows time for allicin, a potent antibacterial agent, to develop. You can eat it on its own or mix it with olive oil and spread on to a cracker.
Keeping healthy in winter is all about prevention! Up your game with 5 SEASONAL SELF-CARE TIPS TO HELP YOU SURVIVE THE WINTER SEASON.