In the Northern Hemisphere we’re bang in the middle of winter now. You just have to look at the town and city centres to see how busy everyone is running around at the moment. The colder, dryer air, combined with pr-Christmas stress means that colds and flu are catching up with many of us. We can’t always avoid picking up a nasty bug, but you can certainly help your body put up a good fight once you get flu or colds. Here are my top 10 tips to help you recover from a bug.
1 ~ Vitamin C and Zinc
So most of us know that Vitamin C is important, but Zinc compliments the effects of Vitamin C giving your immune system the extra boost it needs.
Buy pure powdered Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) that you stir into water, I like Solgar’s Vitamin C crystals http://www.solgar.co.uk/product/vitamin-c-crystals-44-oz-125g-E3300.html
Rosehip Tea is very high in Vitamin C, plus it lets you take in extra water and drinking hot liquid can also help alleviate sinus pressure. ask for it at your local health food store.
Eat Swiss chard, which will not only give you a Vitamin C boost, but lots of other great nutrients plus a healthy dose of fibre, see my recipes for flu fighting Swiss chard here.
Sesame seeds, or Tahini which is a sesame seed paste is high in Zinc, and since hummus contains both Tahini and chickpeas in it (also high in zinc) a tub of hummus ought to do the trick to give you a zinc boost.
2 ~ For congestion avoid dairy and supplement with Bromelaine
Dairy increases mucus production, not good for congestion, sore throats or coughs, and on that note nor is Soya milk. Stick to coconut milk, a bit of rice milk, almond milk or hemp milk instead.
Bromelaine is a pineapple extract that reduces inflammation in the sinuses and can reduce excessive mucus production. By all means get it direct from the pineapple, but only fresh pineapple (pineapple juice from a carton is no good). But you can also buy Bromelaine as a supplement, and I swear by it when I get colds or flu. I also once managed to dramatically relieve a very serious sinus infection by eating a salad with pineapple and chilly oil twice a day.
3 ~ For a sore throat
Ginger tea is wonderful to help soothe a sore throat, steep 4 – 6 thin slices of ginger in some hot water and add a drop of honey to sweeten.
You can also try gargling with salted water (sea salt rather than table salt), making sure you don’t swallow any of the water.
4 ~ Ditch the sugar and swap carbohydrate meals for colourful fresh foods and proteins instead
You really cannot afford to take in ’empty calories’ when you are ill. Eat foods that help your body rather than making it work extra hard to try and process foods that have no benefit. Avoid sugar as much as possible, this includes refined carbohydrates such as white breads and pasta which just gets broken down into simple sugars anyway. Sugar suppresses the immune system, according to an article on the Live strong website, Jim Howenstine, M.D., says that “glucose and ascorbic acid compete with one another. So a diet high in sugar means lower levels of vitamin C. ” http://www.livestrong.com/article/507850-can-eating-sugar-worsen-a-cold/
5 ~ Juicing, soups & smoothies
Freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices are a quick and easy way to get vitamins and minerals into you system, but if you don’t have a juicer, smoothies and soups are great too. The nutrients in soups and smoothies are easy for your body to absorb without doing too much work.
6 ~ Fluids
Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and herbal tea to keep mucus membranes from drying out.
7 ~ Keeping warm from inside out
Certain spices and herbs can heat up the body, increase circulation and help your immune system. Adding spices to your food can also help to ease congestion. According to Kimberley Snyder, author of the Beauty Detox solution, the following spices are the best to help fight a cold: http://www.kimberlysnyder.net/blog/2011/10/25/7-natural-methods-to-get-you-through-cold-and-flu-season/
8 ~ Yoga & exercise
Although resting is important when you are unwell, so is moving and getting fresh air. A 10 minute walk (wrapping up warmly of course) in some fresh air can help to stimulate your circulation and so can a gentle yoga practice. The article below on the Yoga Journal website suggests that heart opening poses stimulates the Thymus, an organ behind the breastbone, helping to stimulate the growth of T cells to support the immune system.
9 ~ Breathing
Deep belly breathing allows for the best uptake of the correct mixture of Oxygen and Carbon dioxide for optimum cell function. Practicing deep breathing also reduces stress – another helping hand for your immune system to help it in its fight against any nasties.
10 ~ Rest
And of course resting is important. Take time off when you notice the start of flu symptoms especially to give your body a chance to recover before it gets worse. Drink chamomile tea to aid a restful sleep as well as using menthol or camphor rubs on your chest or back, because the better you breathe once again, the better you will sleep.
Have a healthy Christmas week!
Hanri & Banjo xx