It’s that time of year when we can’t seem to escape the dreaded coughs and colds; whether it’s on your daily commute on the train, tube or bus, or your children come home from school sneezing, you’re crossing your fingers hoping that you don’t come down with something yourself. Unfortunately there is no magic pill to keep us safe from the viruses and bugs that surround us, particularly as we approach the cooler months and darker nights. But as I always say, prevention is better than cure and if you prepare your body for attack, you will help fight off the unwelcome intruders. Give yourself a new lease of life this winter and look after your immune system!
Prevention is better than cure
Your immune system is incredible and shouldn’t be underestimated; given the right tools it will protect you from harm. If you do get struck down and it’s healthy, you will recover quicker and prevent the illness from developing into something more serious. But we are all human and this is often easier said than done. For the first time in over four years I caught a cold and cough myself, and I knew exactly the reason why. I had previously taken a short course of antibiotics to fight an infection, far from my choice, but essential for my health. So where’s the link?
From the inside out
In reading my previous newsletters, you may not be surprised to hear that the problem often starts in the gut. The good bacteria in your digestive system is your most powerful ally in supporting your immune system. A course of antibiotics plays havoc with this process, as in fighting infection and killing off the bad bacteria, it destroys the good stuff too. Whilst my infection was cured by the antibiotics, the good bacteria had been killed off, so my immune system was low and I picked up a cold and cough.
Boost your immune
Looking after your gut is essential in fighting colds and coughs this winter, it loves nothing more than fibre-rich and nutritious foods, but feed it with refined sugars and carbohydrates and you’re putting yourself at risk. Aside from antibiotics and poor diet, there are a number of additional lifestyle factors that can lower your immunity, such as stress, lack of sleep, little or no exercise and the lack of Vitamin D from the sun at this time of year. Now is the time to really look after yourself!
Kath’s tips for giving yourself a new lease of life this winter
- Look after your digestive system. Take a probiotic or eat plenty of fermentedfoods such as sauerkraut, natural yoghurt and kefir, which are all high in the good bacteria your digestive system needs. If you would like to make your own kefir and need a starter kit I often have some available (free of charge), so do get in touch.
- Avoid refined foods and eat a diet full of fresh, colourful, nutritious foods.
- Garlic is an excellent natural antibiotic (or anti-fungal). Odourless garlic capsules are available from here if you prefer.
- Zinc is essential for a healthy immune system. These days many of us eat less protein which is high in zinc, so a deficiency is very common. Red meat, poultry, oysters and some seeds are great sources. If you think you may have a deficiency I can do a zinc test for you.
- Take your vitamins, especially Vitamin D, B Complex and Vitamin C, which are all great for your defences. The summer midday sun is the main source of vitamin D so in winter it’s easy to become deficient.
- Silver Shield is my favourite go-to magical supplement; it is a highly effective antiseptic. If you feel a sore throat coming on, gargle for as long as you can and then swallow. Repeat hourly until your sore throat goes. It usually takes 2-4 gargles.
- It may sound obvious, but just look after yourself! Try and get an early night when you can, watch your stress levels and relax in an Epsom bath if you have a free evening. Finally, don’t forget to wash your hands!