It’s still early winter but the flu season is in full swing. So how do we prevent ourselves and our families from getting the flu and colds this winter season?

It’s always going to be a multi faceted approach to get the best results and of course it’s all about those daily healthy habits that build up our immune system.

There are 4 main areas I’d like to cover:

  • Nutrition
  • Your environment and lifestyle
  • Supplementation
  • Acute remedies

Nutrition

Yes it’s common knowledge to eat a healthy diet but ensuring you cover all your bases can sometimes be challenging.

  1. Making sure you are eating enough protein as this is vital to repair and maintain the body’s tissue but also to fight infections as immune system cells require protein too.
  2. Eat a variety of colours, yes eat that rainbow! Colourful vegetables contain antioxidants which are fabulous for mopping up those pesky free radicals which bounce around in our body and cause oxidative damage (kinda like rust).
    One of the highest antioxidant containing foods are blueberries.
  3. Fermented foods to feed your good gut bacteria. 80% of our immune system starts in the gut. I love the Be Nourished Sauerkraut.
  4. Bone broth for gelatin and good source of minerals.
  5. Zinc containing foods such pumpkin seeds, red meat and seafood such as oysters and mussels.
  6. Fresh herbs and spices contain so many phytonutrients to help support our body’s including our immune system. Add ginger, garlic, turmeric, black pepper, chili and cayenne pepper. Oregano, rosemary and thyme.
  7. Reduce your sugar as sugar has been shown to slow down neutrophil’s (one of our white blood cells) actions of cleaning up invading bacteria and virus.

Your environment & lifestyle

  1. Reduce stress: Our daily habits form who we are even down to our thought patterns and one of the biggest drivers of chronic disease is stress.
    When you are stressed your immune system suffers due to the stress hormone corticosteroid which can suppress the effectiveness of the immune system (e.g. lowers the number of lymphocytes).
    Try meditation or yoga...I utilise a free app called Down Dog and do 15-30 minutes yoga most mornings.
    Have a regular massage…this can help to lower cortisol levels. You can book a massage with me here
  2. Reduce toxic load: our modern environment is loaded with chemicals which our body has to deal with, so do your best to cut them off at the source then support your liver. Cutting them off at the source means controlling your home environment and work environment too if possible to using simple and super cost effective DIY cleaners like white vinegar and water plus a few drops of essential oil such as lemon or wild orange (click here to download my free ebook). Get rid of the anti-bacterial soaps and cleaners as they disrupt our microbiome creating more immune dysfunction.
  3. Get outside into green spaces. Yes it maybe cold, but we have merino clothes and puffer jackets for that! Don’t be afraid of getting dirty as this increases the diversity of the microbiome too. Oh and get a dog for the same reason!
    Also being outside increases your sunlight exposure and therefore Vitamin D production in the body which is known to modulate our innate and adaptive immune response.

Supplementation

  1. Vitamin C for prevention and acutely: I recommend liposomal or a buffered Vitamin C for the best bioavailability. 1000mg every 2- 3 hours if sick or 1000mg once a day for prevention.
  2. Zinc to boost immunity. Take 50 mg daily within 24 hours of the first signs of a cold or flu.
  3. Vitamin D as we do naturally get less sunlight in winter and New Zealanders are commonly low in Vitamin D. I recommend D3 (cholecalciferol) and to take alongside some healthy fats as Vitamin D is a fat soluable vitamin.
  4. Herbal teas : Puraty Immune Booster tea contains Ashwaganda, Ginger, Elderberry, Astragalus, Rhodiola, and Rosehip...all the good immune herbs! In stock at the clinic.
  5. Daily use of Wild Orange, Rosemary, Eucalyptus and Clove essential oils. Apply diluted with a carrier oil to soles of the feet, neck and spine. I only recommend doTERRA essential oils... click here to get your wholesale account.
  6. Mushroom extracts of beta-glucans which has been intensely studied and shows it stimulates or activates the immune system to help fight infections. I recommend a practitioner only powder called BetaMax. It’s pleasant mandarin flavour as you just mix it into water.

Acute remedies for cold or flu

  1. Good old lemon, Manuka honey and ginger in warm water and drink. For added benefits add turmeric, rosemary, thyme or even a little cayenne pepper.
  2. Home made cough syrup:
    ¼ Cup of Manuka honey
    ¼ Cup of coconut oil
    1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
    1 clove garlic
    1 chunk fresh ginger
    Sprig of Thyme (or *one drop of doTERRA essential oil)
    Sprig of Rosemary (or *one drop of doTERRA essential oil)
    Warm all ingredients on a low heat for 15 minutes, strain and store in a sterilised jar.
    *add once mixture has cooled
    1 teaspoon dose (1/2 teaspoon dose for children)
  3. Kiwiherb EchiBerry is a fantastic over the counter herbal formula containing Echinacea and Elderberry. Two highly prized herbs to boost the immune system.
  4. Rest: always so important for a faster recovery.
  5. An acute herbal formula to help clear mucous and soothe a cough; Elecampane, Marshmallow root, Astragalus. This one worked a treat for my husband recently. I can make this up specifically for you too...just book an acute appointment.
  6. Good Health Viralex Attack is an excellent over the counter herbal remedy for the flu.
  7. Nasal irrigation can help rid the body of bacterial mucous: Mix ¼ teaspoon and ¼ teaspoon baking soda in 100 mls of warm water and use a bulb syringe or nasal irrigation kit to squirt water into the nose and let it drain out the other nostril.

I hope some of these suggestion come in handy for you over the winter season, if you need extra support book a naturopathic appointment or an acute appointment (for a herbal formula NB: health history must be checked first) please book with me by clicking here.

Written by Naturopath and Gut Health Specialist - Jane McClurg

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