At last the weather has started to turn colder, we are starting to see snow and what comes hand in hand with winter? a massive cold and flu outbreak. It begins slowly, when you notice someone is coughing and sniffling on the train. But before you even realise that the virus is spreading, you look around at work and everyone around you is sick. You cannot hide from it, wherever you go people are coughing and spluttering. You can take all preventative measures one can think of, only to wake up one day with the common “I have swallowed razor blades” feeling. That’s when you realise the common cold has caught you, once again.
Tips to avoid getting sick this winter
Reduce sugar intake-
Reducing your sugar intake is undoubtedly one of the best diet tips for preventing the common cold. There is strong scientific evidence proposing that sugar decreases the function of the immune system.
“The maintenance of lowered blood glucose levels […] may provide a clinical method of enhancing the body’s defences against infection. […] We found that sugars impaired the neutrophils [a type of white blood cells]to engulf bacteria. […] Thus, diet may play a key role in the control of resistance to infection.”
Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
The results of the study tie in with another negative side-effect of sugar: scientific research has shown that the consumption of sugar can lead to increased inflammation in the human body. Increased inflammation is linked to a hole host of chronic diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In addition, sugar can deplete the body of some very important cold-fighting vitamins, including vitamins C, E and B.
Boost your immune system with ginger tea
Ginger’s been used for centuries to relieve a sore throat and loosen up congestion due to a cold. Get into a regular habit of drinking one or two cups of ginger tea daily. Admittedly. Some find the taste of ginger tea takes a little getting used to, because it has a rather potent flavour. However, you will quickly adopt, especially when you start to notice how effective this tea is. Whilst drinking the tea you will feel a comfortable warmness spreading through your body. In Ayurvedic medicine, ginger is highly regarded, it is believed to help the body sweat out toxins, improve immunity and cleanse the lymphatic system.
Drink bone broth
Grandma knew best! Homemade bone broth is rich with easily absorbable minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, sulphur, and trace minerals difficult to obtain elsewhere.
Eat fermented foods and/or take probiotics
70-80% of our immune system is in our gut. If you have intestinal dysbiosis or poor gut flora, you’ll be more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections (and colds and flus).
Be sure to get enough vitamin D
Vitamin D appears to have protective effects against colds and other respiratory tract infections, especially in people with asthma and other chronic lung conditions. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be obtained through diet by eating foods like liver, egg yolks and fish.
These have been used across the world for centuries to help modulate the immune system. Mushrooms increase the activity of our protective white blood cells. Shiitake, maitake and reishi pack the biggest punch.
Increase foods high in vitamin C
Vitamin C is believed to be incredibly helpful, especially when you are coming down with a cold. As a result of this, many people increase their vitamin C intake when they feel a cold approaching. If you are going to take a vitamin C supplement studies have shown that liposomal vitamin C is the most effective form. This is because the compound can be absorbed by cells more easily, thus increasing the bioavailability of the vitamin C drastically, while avoiding some of the negative side-effects of vitamin C.
Sleep and rest
Getting sufficient sleep and rest is perhaps the most important thing you can do to optimise your immune function. Just a few nights of not sleeping well can raise inflammatory markers and reduce the protective capability of your immune system. That’s why it’s a good idea to go to bed earlier, sleep longer and rest more in the winter season.
Sometimes despite our best efforts, a virus slips through our defences and our immune system gets called into action. Here are a few things in addition to the above that you can to do fight off the cold or flu and shorten its lifespan.
- Sweat: in Chinese medicine, sweating is recommended at the early stages of a cold. The best way to do this is to take a hot bath, a Epsom salt bath is a great choice as it supports your lymphatic system. Remember do not train, sweating it out at the gym will be no help at all!
- Add cayenne pepper to food and drinks.
- Increase probiotic intake.
- Sleep, rest, and sleep some more. Again, there’s no better remedy for a cold or flu than rest so get to bed early.