Natural Remedies For Staying Well This Winter!
Published on 26/10/2015
Winter is traditionally known as the cold and flu season, but what is the reason behind this? It's down to a number of external factors. Firstly, in the winter months we tend to spend a lot more time indoors, in closed air circulation areas in close proximity to others. This means that any infections or viruses carried are much more easily spread. Another reason is that many viruses thrive in the slightly cooler climate. Influenza for instance is most stable at 5 degrees Celsius. Finally the change in humidity also affects the likelihood of infection. Most viruses are spread through the air on water droplets, and the drier the environment, the more time the droplets carrying the virus hang around in the air, opposed to a humid climate where the water molecules are attracted to each other and fall to the ground before we have a chance to breathe them in.
The change in our diet from the winter to summer could also be partially responsible for our susceptibility to falling ill. In the summer months we are automatically more inclined to eat fruits, salads and a more varied diet whereas in wintertime we may tend to reach for the sugary, salty snacks, comfort eating, as well as stocking up on stodge at meal times. Also, the tendency to cook vegetables in winter opposed to eating them raw means some of the nutrient content is lost. As well as still trying to incorporate raw, colourful vegetables into your diet and including fruit, cook your vegetables in ways that cause the least damage to their nutrient content, namely steaming, grilling and roasting.
Ensure you are eating a diet rich in high quality protein, as it has been shown that when bodies lack protein they lose their ability to make antibodies, and immune cells become depleted. It's also important to eat a vitamin-rich diet, all vitamins play their part in immunity in one way or another, be it vitamin C promoting phagocyte function and supporting T-cell function, or vitamin E supporting a healthy inflammatory response. Minerals also play their part in our immune systems, in particular zinc - a potent immuno-stimulant and a deficiency in it has been shown to suppress T-cell function – along with iron, copper, chromium, selenium and manganese. Antioxidants and phytonutrients found in colourful fruits and vegetables are also important in supporting the immune system.
We can supplement our diets to ensure we are getting the aforementioned nutrients – a multivitamin and mineral, ensuring that levels of B and C vitamins are high, or failing that taking a separate supplement that contains these, you can find B complex supplements combined with vitamin C. You may also wish to choose a vitamin D supplement, as in the wintertime the sun is not strong enough for us to naturally create vitamin D. Our stores last about 3 months from summer, which leaves us with around another 3 months where we could be deficient.
There are some natural remedies that you may wish to consider taking before falling ill to boost your immunity:
Elderberry – powerful actives in these berries have an incredible effect in the body - preventing flu viruses entering the cells of the body. Elder is also beneficial for treating sore throats and infections.
Echinacea – the root of the plant is anti-inflammatory so limits symptoms of cold and flu by reducing mucus production, whilst the aerial part of the plant is anti-viral.
Propolis - contains proteins and compounds that have the ability to alter and regulate the immune system, and which possess antibacterial and antiviral benefits.
Manuka Honey – offers broad spectrum protection against a variety of infectious organisms including bacteria, microbes, viruses, fungi and protozoa. When buying manuka check the Unique Manuka Factor, or UMF, it should be between 10 and 16 for it to be considered a medicine.
Astragalus – has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and protects and supports the immune system and is particularly effective at preventing colds and upper respiratory infections
Gingko Biloba – works by improving blood circulation and has an anti-inflammatory effect in the upper respiratory system
Ginseng – Korean Ginseng has been shown to increase the active response of the immune system in people suffering from bronchitis, whilst Siberian Ginseng has been shown to boost the number of functioning immune system cells