Yes, it’s that time of year again…..the cold & flu session is getting scarily close.
Luckily there is so much we can do to help prevent getting sick & also help our body recover, if in fact we do get sick. Here are our top tips for getting through the flu session in-one-piece.
“To administer medicine after an illness begins.. is like digging a well after becoming thirsty or casting weapons after a battle has engaged”
1. Look after yourself – Self-Care!
We are going to start with the most obvious & I’m sure this goes without saying but if there was ever a time to really engage with self-care it is now. Infections truly are opportunistic. When we are overworked, over-stressed & run-down we make ourselves incredibly vulnerable to sickness.
Our basic self-care tips include:
- getting enough shut eye – a minimum of 6-8 hours & aim to be in bed by 10/10:30pm
- regular exercise (but not too much) to keep the lymphatics & circulation moving
- taking time to rest & relax – even schedule it in if you need to.
- eating well – load up on greens, everything colourful & introduce more fresh herbs & spices
- limited excessive alcohol, caffeine & refined sugar consumption to give the liver & adrenals a semi-rest
- learning to say “no” – don’t over-commit yourself
- stay hydrated :)
2. Wholesome Nutrition – Eat Well!
Get excited because its time to whip out the beloved slow-cooker & crack into some crazy delicious & super nutrient dense slow-cooked meals, loaded with veggies, protein, herbs, spices & bone broth.
Not only are slow cooked meals delicious they are a powerhouse of easily digestible, readily available nutrients. The act of slow cooking further breaks down proteins making the process of digestion super easy for your body, allowing maximum nutrition for minimum energy. More bang for the buck!
Other foods to add to your daily routine that help promote healthy immunity & well-being:
- Dark Leafy Greens – the nutrient powerhouses!
- Fresh Herbs & Spices – think chili, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, parsley & coriander for antioxidants & phyto-nutrients
- Grass-Fed Bone Broth – loaded with collagen, amino acids, minerals
- Sweet potato, pumpkin & carrot – rich in beta-carotene for first-line immunity
- Capsicum, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, lemons, berries, kiwi – rich in vitamin c, clinically show to reduce the longevity of the common cold.
Sometimes we just need an extra boost. These are our supplemental recommendations:
Adequate zinc intake is essential for maintaining healthy immune function. In fact, deficiency of zinc has been linked to poor immune function & increased susceptibility to infection. Zinc plays an important role in regulating immune cell activation which helps your body fight off invading pathogens & improves recovery time.
Not only is Vitamin C essential for supporting proper immune function but it’s equally as important for supporting adequate adrenal function & ensuring the body’s stress system is not overworked. Vitamin C has also been extensively researched for it’s ability to reduce duration of symptoms & re-occurrence of the illness.
Keeping our gut microbes healthy & balanced is essential in building & maintaining good immunity this winter. Dysbiosis, an imbalance between the commensal & pathogenic bacteria, can cause immune dysregulation & inflammation within the digestive tract, leading to infection susceptibility & compromised immune function.
When looking for a probiotic consider a product which contains strains such as Lactobacillus Paracasei & plantarum, both of which have been successfully clinically trialed in the treatment of rhinovirus (common cold).
3. Immune & Nervous System Regulating Herbs
Echinacea – Immune Enhancing/Modulating, Lymphatic
Echinacea has been extensively used in both modern & early herbal medicine to help prevent & treat viral infections, as well as recent research now confirming it’s role in preventing secondary bacterial respiratory infections. The result of this study indicate that Echinacea has the potential to reduce the risk of respiratory complications by preventing virus-induced bacterial adhesion.
Echinacea has also been shown to be as effective as Oseltamivir (anti-viral medication used against Influenza A & B) for the prevention & treatment of Influenza A & B.
Holy Basil (Tulsi) – Adaptogen/Cognitive Tonic, Immune Modulating
In Ayurveda, Holy basil (Tulsi) is referred to as the ‘Elixir of Life’ due to it’s wide range of therapeutic properties, including use as an adaptogen, metabolic & neurological/cognitive support, anti-inflammatory, immune modulator, hepato-protective, antioxidant & antimicrobial.
With regards to immune modulation, research has shown increased immune cell activity, specifically Natural Killer (helps limit the spread of infection) & T-cell (watches out for infection & guides the immune system) after administration of Holy Basil for 4 week.
Withania (Ashwaganda) – Adaptogen, Immune Modulating
As we now know that self-care is paramount in flu prevention, supporting the nervous system is essential, especially if you are over-worked, stressed & even more so if this stress is unavoidable. The impacts of chronic stress on the immune system can be fairly significant & leaving you immun0-compromised & very vulnerable to infection. Withania has been clinically shown to have a significant anti-stress, adaptogenic properties, reducing the impact of chronic stress on the body & susceptibility to infection.
Medicinal Mushroom including Reishi, Cordyceps, Shiitake, Coriolus & Chaga aregreat options in order to boost immune function & prevent illness this winter. Not only are most of these mushrooms immune-modulating but they possess nervous system & adaptogenic, blood sugar stabilizing & anti-inflammatory properties. We even wrote an article all about them here. Have a read!
Want more information? Why not book a consultation with one of our experienced practitioners & get a plan that’s personalized for you. Click here to book.
Note – Flu Shots
These tips also apply if you’ve had the flu-shot, you want to make sure your looking after yourself post vaccination to not only further support your immune system but also because you will only be protected against the strain(s) that’s present in the vaccine. You are still susceptible to other infections such as rhinovirus (common cold).
Research – Wanna Learn More? Have a read…
Bhattacharya, S & Muruganandam, A 2003, Adaptogenic activity of Withania somnifera: an experimental study using a rat model of chronic stress, Pharmacology, Biochemistry & Behaviour, Vol. 75, No. 3, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12895672
Guggenheim, A, Wright, K & Zwickey 2014, Immune Modulation From Five Major Mushrooms: An Application to Integrative Oncology, Integrative Medicine A Clinicians Journal, Vol. 13, No. 1, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684115/
Jamshidi, N & Cohen 2017, The Clinical Efficacy & Safety of Tulsi in Humans: A Systematic Review of the Literature, Evidence Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5376420/
Raus, K, Pleschka, S, Klein, P, Schoop, R & Fisher, P 2015, Effect of an Echinacea-Based hot Drink versus Oseltamiriv in Influenza treatment: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Double-Dummy, Multicenter, Noninferiority Clinical Trial, Current Therapeutic Research Clinical & Experimental, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4528044/
Vimalanathan, S, Schoop, R, Suter, A & Hudson, J 2017, ‘Prevention of influenza virus induced bacterial superinfection by standardized Echinacea purpurea, via regulation of surface receptor expression in human bronchial epithelial cells’, Virus Research, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28279802