Cold and flu, be gone!
My friend Lisa asked me a few questions about keeping well this winter. We got down to the nitty gritty of what really makes us sick, what we can do to stop getting sick and finally, what we can do if we do end up being unwell.
It feels like flu season has really set in here in Perth as I am hearing of lots of people feeling unwell and struggling to 'shake their sickness.'
(Hint: let's work on that immune system, prevention is better than cure!)
Here's what I had to say and if you're looking for more tips on staying well this winter you can have a read here. I also really recommend 'getting your soup on' over these colder days. I have shared plenty of delicious, warming, healthy winter soup recipes for you to try.
What is it about the colder months of winter that bring about colds and flus?
This is a great question and is one that is
still being researched extensively today.
· The strain of flu changes so quickly from year to year that our body doesn’t recognise the new virus and in a sense we lose our immunity towards it
· Germs love the cold weather and can live for longer in a cold, dry environment, which is what we experience during winter
· Other theories suggest that because we spend more time indoors in winter, we are exposed to less sunlight, which lowers our vitamin D levels hence weakening our immune system and leaving us more likely to catch a cold. Spending so much time indoors and in closer proximity to other people who might be infected may also be a contributing factor
What can we do in terms of diet, exercise, treatments that will help prevent the sniffles?
· In winter it is even more important to listen to your body about when it needs to slow down and rest. Winter is a ‘hibernation’ month so take it easy, get lots of rest and make sure you’re supporting your immune system as best you can
· This means eating a large variety of nourishing whole foods and supplementing your diet with high quality nutritional supplements, especially vitamin C and zinc
· Sleep is your best friend. Make sure you’re getting at least 8 hours sleep a night, if not more
· Eat a big variety of food and include as many colours on your plate as possible. It is also a great time to include lots of herbs and spices in to your cooking as many of these have powerful antibacterial properties
What should we actively avoid to prevent catching colds and flus?
· Over exercising and over doing it, at work and socially. When we are run down, our body is more susceptible to getting sick, it's as simple as that
· Make sure you are managing your stress levels because stress hormones, adrenalin and cortisol dampen your immune system, making us more susceptible to infection
· Avoid processed foods, sugar, alcohol and too much caffeine
· Avoid staying in doors too much and aim to get outside into the sunshine and fresh air everyday
· Most importantly, stay away from anyone who does have a cold or the flu. Honestly, if you're sick, no one wants you at work so stay home and rest up. Be sure to wash your hands more than normal just to be safe
When we've been hit by a cold or flu, what can we do to nourish our body during this time?
· Rest! Sleep is so important when we aren’t feeling our best. It’s your body’s time to repair and restore itself
· Rather take it easy for a few days and allow your body to recover than push yourself and end up feeling awful for 2 weeks
· Drink lots of warm fluids like lemon and ginger water and dose up on vitamin C and zinc. Don’t forget your daily probiotic too!
· Avoid mucous forming foods like dairy, sugar and other refined foods
· Eat plenty of nutritious whole foods such as fish, eggs, vegetables and fruit
· Influenza is a virus and many people don’t realise that antibiotics can only target bacteria in the body so they are ineffective when treating cold and flu’s
· Diffusing oils such as eucalyptus, peppermint, thyme and lavender are great for clearing nasal congestion and respiratory infections
· Bone broth is great during winter, it's warming and nourishing
Would you recommend any particular food or drinks that are good for purging any lingering bugs?
· Include lots of garlic and ginger in your cooking as well as herbs such as oregano
· Lemon and other citrus fruits are great, full of vitamin C
· Oysters as a treat because they’re packed with zinc