Your immunity goes through many ups and downs throughout the year. We constantly hear about taking multivitamins and other products to help ‘build our immunity’ against viruses. I just read about a strong strain of influenza that has gone through Europe and the media suggest that it’s heading our way. There are many places you pick up a virus or bacteria from. Now, whilst the only thing that might prevent you from catching these is locking yourself in your home and not seeing anyone, this is not realistic. So many of us travel on public transport to work and from work in confined spaces with lots of other people, or have children in childcare, or touch a shopping trolley just after someone else has sneezed on it. Sometimes, really, you just can’t help catching a cold.
HOWEVER! There are things you can do to help build and strengthen your immunity to help your body fight that virus or bacteria. Your first line of defence is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy, fresh food can assist you and your immune system stay strong and healthy. So coming into this winter season, I’d like to explore some foods that you can try to give your body a fighting chance against that nasties. Try to include more raw fruits and vegetables in your diet as they provide an abundance of all important antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Firstly, increase you intake of lots of green leafy vegetables. These are jam-packed full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that assist the bodies’ immune system in fighting off viruses. Try eating some of these in your daily diet - asparagus, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, kale, lettuce and various types of spinach.
Vitamin C is something we need on a daily basis. It is also great for helping to protect our cells from free radical damage, lowers cancer risk, regenerates the vitamin E supplies and improves iron absorption as well as fighting those viruses. Foods high in Vitamin C are - chilli, papaya, guava, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, oranges, strawberries, peppers (capsicum), Brussels sprouts and melons.
The powers of garlic! –Garlic is a pungent herb and is one of nature’s best antibiotics. It has an incredible immune stimulating effect and can also be used to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and help prevent cancer. You can use garlic in many everyday dishes. Try letting the garlic sit for a few minutes directly after chopping as this can enhance the benefits of this natural herb.
Ginger is another one of those powerful herbs that comes to the aid when we are sick. It contains chemicals called sesquiterpenes that target rhinoviruses (the most common of cold viruses). Cut some slithers of ginger and place into a cup of hot water and it can be a great soothing agent to a scratchy throat or help supress coughing. It is also a natural pain and fever reducer. You don’t need to be sick to use the benefits of ginger!
Yoghurt - The benfecial bacteria in yoghurt have been shown to not only help restore your bowel after taking antibiotics, but also to help fight fatigue and rebalance your immune system after respiratory infections. Yoghurt also is also a great source of calcium, magnesium, protein, low GI carbohydrates and a food source of Vitamin D.
An even better source of Vitamin D is sunlight. And a little sun can go a long way! During winter, we tend to spend a lot more time indoors. Try going out in the sunshine for even 5 or 10 minutes each day and this is magic for our bodies. Sunshine is a natural form of Vitamin D and will help the body to build that immunity to fight those winter viruses.
If you do catch that nasty cold, it’s not because your immunity is bad, sometimes there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop some of the strains of viruses that are floating around. Living a healthy lifestyle will help to reduce the number of these that we catch and also reduce the recovery time.
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