Beat Those Winter Colds!
Many people tend to feel low in January especially after the Christmas excesses. However, the good news is that it is never too late to give your immune system a boost to avoid the usual round of coughs, colds and flu.
Vitamin C is a very important antioxidant for fighting viruses. Indeed, the body's requirement for it increases dramatically over the winter months. Vitamin C is abundant in citrus fruits but also in strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. It is important to make sure you are eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Look for as much colour variety as possible to get a good range of phytonutrients and antioxidants - both excellent for immune boosting. Especially look for red or purple - for example purple cabbage, red grapes, red peppers and all the berry fruits. If you are stressed, Vitamin C is used up in greater quantities - hence you are more likely to catch a cold. Another good reason to make sure you're getting enough!
An excellent way to boost your intake of fruit and vegetables is to juice or make smoothies. A perfect breakfast is a smoothie containing your favourite berry fruits, plus perhaps some mango or banana, some live natural yogurt (helps to boost the beneficial bacterial in the gut) and some ground sunflower and pumpkin seeds for the essential omega 3 fats. They are also a good source of protein which will help to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Juicing vegetables is an excellent way of boosting the immune system. Vegetables tend to contain more trace minerals than fruits.
If you suspect you have food allergies or intolerances, now is the time to get them tested. If you are eating foods that are stimulating an immune response, which may be an inflammatory type conditition such as eczema, asthma or arthritis or you are feeling tired and bloated all the time, you will struggle to get these under control if it is the food you are eating that is causing the problems
Try to include lots of garlic, onions, ginger and turmeric in your cooking. These ingredients are all anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial.
Make sure you are drinking plenty of fresh fluids. If you cannot face cold water during the winter months, then herbal or fruit teas will all count towards your daily suggested fluid intake of 2 litres.
Herbal formulations containing echinacea are also proven to be effective in boosting the immune system if you do fall foul of the dreaded cold. Research shows that echinacea is actually more effective when used for about 2-3 weeks when you feel under par rather than as a long term preventative supplement. It is particularly effective for upper respiratory tract infections.
Above all, give your immune system (including your liver!) a break and limit (or avoid) alcohol (especially if you are feeling under par). Sugar (in all its forms) also suppresses the body's natural defences. Brown sugar is certainly no better for you than white!