As winter gets into full swing, so too can winter bugs. Many of us have already suffered from colds this season and the trend will inevitably continue over the coming months. However, catching a cold doesn’t have to be a given every winter: there are many ways of reducing your chances of catching a cold.
The good news is that Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, tell us just how we can do this with her five top tips!
HAVE MORE VITAMIN C
Vitamin C is probably best-known as a cold remedy. However, it can also prevent a cold happening in the first place. Nobel Prize winner, Linus Pauling, wrote a revolutionary book called Vitamin C and the common cold which looked at using large doses of vitamin C. Whilst the clinical evidence is still fairly mixed, we do know that vitamin C increases white blood cell production, which strengthens immunity, and therefore many people have found that taking good levels of vitamin C throughout the winter has kept them sniffle-free.
Vitamin C is very easily destroyed by cooking, storage and food preparation. So, whilst it’s essential to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables containing vitamin C, such as strawberries, peppers, broccoli, mango, guavas, kiwi and oranges (all fruits and vegetables will contain some vitamin C), it’s just as important to take a daily supplement. Taking an additional 1000 mg of vitamin C daily can really help.
EAT SHITAKE MUSHROOMS
There’s a wealth of mushrooms now available in the supermarkets. However, shitake mushrooms stand out as having some really beneficial effects on the immune system. They seem to improve gut immunity which is obviously beneficial to the whole body, but they also contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals, most notably vitamins D and B6, which both help to boost the immune system.
Not sure how to eat shitake mushrooms? Prepare them by simply washing and slicing and then use them in a Singapore Noodle recipe. They work really well with chillies, turmeric, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce and garlic with some chicken and noodles. Delicious!
TAKE SOME ECHINACEA
Perhaps the most widely used Western herb for enhancement of the immune system, and therefore a great defence against colds, is Echinacea. It even strengthens the immune system in healthy people so it’s certainly worth using as a preventative measure. Indeed, there have been many scientific investigations on the immune-enhancing effects of Echinacea.
Look for registered Traditional Herbal Remedies (THR’s) containing Echinacea purpurea root for best effects.
Of all dietary changes that could be most beneficial in keeping you cold-free this winter, it’s ditching the sugar. Sugar in all its forms (glucose, sucrose, fructose, to name a few) can significantly reduce the ability of white blood cells to destroy viral invaders to the body. In fact the negative effects of having a sugar overload can start within 30 minutes and typically last for over five hours. This can mean a 50% reduction in the ability of our white blood cells to deal with foreign invaders.
After a sugar-hit such as sweets, pastries, alcohol and fizzy drinks, blood sugar levels will rise. This will cause elevated insulin levels, and vitamin C and insulin appear to have opposing effects on white blood cell production. Even fruit juice can be a problem because it has a direct effect on blood sugar levels.
Try to make a conscious effort to really look at your sugar intake and reduce it as much as possible over the coming months.
The mind has a profound effect on health and disease; our mood and attitude have a tremendous bearing on immunity. When we’re happy and optimistic, our immune system functions much better. Conversely, when we’re depressed, our immune system tends to be depressed. If you want to have a healthy immune system, you need to laugh often, view life with a positive outlook and relax on a regular basis.
Easier said than done?
Positive thinking actually takes practice, particularly if you’re prone to being a ‘glass half-empty’ type of person. However, take each day as it comes and actively try to banish negative thoughts. It’s also a great idea to think of at least one thing every morning that you’re grateful for. It could be something as simple as drinking a wonderful cup of coffee. After a while, your mind set will switch to being more positive. And the more positive you are, the stronger your immune system will become.
So with these top tips hopefully you can stay happy and healthy all winter long!
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