The start of Autumn is a good time to strengthen our immune systems so that we can withstand the onslaught of the dreaded winter lurgies. The symptoms of coughing, sneezing, even fever are signs that our bodies are working hard to keep us healthy. What can we do to help our defences?
1. Keep hydrated by drinking water. Our bodies work best when they have plenty of water available for vital metabolic reactions to take place, to transport nutrients and key substances, and to remove wastes.
2. Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands regularly so you don’t pass on germs. Cough or sneeze into tissues and dispose of these properly.
3. Eat as healthily as you can. A mostly plant-based diet giving you a rainbow of coloured vegetables, fruits, healthy oils, herbs and spices, fresh rather than processed is to be preferred, organic is ideal, and if you can grow some of it yourself, even better! Turmeric and ginger are two spices with strong anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic is known to be antibiotic and traditionally made chicken soup is filled with immune boosting nutrients.
4. Sugar causes all sorts of problems, one of which is that it depresses our immune system for several hours after ingestion. It competes with Vitamin C in the white blood cells so sweets and sugary treats are a no-no, especially with children. Dairy tends to increase mucus production so it’s advisable to cut back on dairy products, too.
5. As our soils have become depleted of nutrients, supplementation is essential for optimum wellbeing. Vitamin A, C and E are all necessary for a wellfunctioning immune system. Did you know that the lymphocytes, our bodies’ soldiers, have the highest concentration of Vitamin C than any other cell? Infection is a type of inflammation and the lymphocytes use Vitamin C as an antioxidant to deal with the inflammation. Thus, when mobilised, lymphocytes go through large quantities of Vitamin C very quickly. Taking large doses (1g or more) of Vitamin C frequently throughout the day at the sign of a cold can be beneficial. Zinc is an important mineral for the immune system especially to fight off viral infections.
6. Herbal remedies e.g. Echinacea, Olive Leaf extract; homeopathic remedies like Aconite and Oscillococcinum, and the tissue salts Ferrum phos and Kali mur can help. Please make sure you get advice from a suitably qualified professional before taking any medication.
7. Our bowel flora form an important link in our defence system. Keep it healthy by eating vegetables rich in fibre and adding fermented foods to your daily diet.
8. Manage your stress and get enough sleep every day.
9. Rest! If you feel a cold starting, slow down and get plenty of rest and sleep.
By Dr Estelle Moys M.Tech Hom