‘Tis the season to deck the halls and stock our cupboards with the natural remedies to kick the cold this season
We rush around, multitasking and holding the house together but there’s nothing like a cold to remind you that you’re only human after all. It starts with a tickle in the throat, a slight chill that an extra layer can’t reach or a slight ache behind the eyes and before you know it you’re rendered useless for the rest of the week. We know it’s coming, we can almost set our watch by it every winter but somehow are yet to escape it. “The viruses causing colds are mainly thought to be spread through the air; so with people sneezing, spluttering or coughing nearby, you could be at risk,” says A.Vogel nutritionist Emma Ross (avogel.co.uk). “Physical contact with infected people is up there with mobile phones, money, handles and household pets as the culprits behind catching a cold. But, with over 200 different strains of the virus, avoiding them all is a pretty tough job.” With a jam-packed diary up ahead, we’ve asked the health experts to arm us with everything we need to keep colds at bay.
Mix it up
“Changing the temperature of the water in your shower to either hot or cold every two minutes will boost your immunity by increasing two types of white blood cells called monocytes and lymphocytes,” nutritionist Marilyn Glenville (marilynglenville.com) tells us. “The immune system is stimulated by your body trying to warm itself up from the cold water, while switching to hot water every now and then stimulates your body’s detoxification system. The fewer toxins we have in our body, the more your immune system is better able to deal with bacteria and viruses.”
Drink, drink, drink
“Your immune system relies on water. The water in our body carries nutrients to your cells, carries waste and toxins away from your cells and out of your body, keeps body temperature stable, protects joints and keeps the lining of your mouth hydrated and moist, reducing susceptibility to colds. Drinking plenty of water will also help your body deliver nutrients, flush out waste and dilute mucus, helping to eliminate bacteria and viruses that can make you ill,” explains Marilyn.
Get some shut eye
“Poor sleep can affect the immune system so it’s crucial that you’re getting enough shut eye. Magnesium is known as ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ and is needed to relax our muscles and nerves, so can help you fall into a peaceful sleep,” Marilyn tells us.
Have a laugh
“Many studies show that laughter boosts our energy, decreases stress hormones, improves immunity and diminishes pain,” Marilyn says. “But what’s very important for anyone, who is stressed or feeling down, is that laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the natural feel-good chemicals that make us happier and relaxed.”
Ditch the dairy
“Try to avoid dairy if you want to get better quicker and stay healthy, because as comforting as that warm milky drink is, it is a mucous forming and inflammatory product. If you have too much dairy it may take longer for you to shake off that bout of sinus or flu!” explains Quest Nutra Pharma nutritionist, Alix Woods (qnutrapharma.com).
Eat to beat
“Try to include plenty of magnesium-rich foods in your diet such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds, fish and leafy green vegetables,” suggests nutritionist Cassandra Barns. Other immune-boosting eats include garlic, red meats, lentils and green leafy vegetables for iron, fish for vitamin B12 and vitamin C-packed foods such as organic citrus, berry fruits, papaya, kiwi, peppers, broccoli or Brussels sprouts everyday.
Step away from the sweet stuff
“Another way to support our immunity is to ensure that we are not overloading our systems with too many anti-nutrient, lownutrient culprit foods, like sugar! It can have an inflammatory effect and feeds the yeasts and bacteria in our body, which can prolong a condition or illness,” explains Alix.
Get out there
We know, it may contradict number three but research has shown that those who exercise even moderately are 25 percent less likely to develop a cold compared to those who rarely lace up. This is because exercise increases blood flow, which is an important factor in our immune response, as our blood is what carries virus-fighting cells to any potentially compromising pathogens that have entered our system.
Pull your socks up
It turns out, staying in wet clothes may actually cure a cold rather than cause one. The tried and tested method of warming up your feet before putting on cold, wet socks followed by dry socks on top will eradicate your symptoms overnight. How? The vessels in your feet will constrict as your feet cool down, which sends all the good nutrients into your organs and tissues.
“A rub, a hug, and a passing touch can all help to decrease the level of the stress hormone cortisol in your body. Cortisol decreases your immune response, so snuggle up to a loved one and enjoy the immune boosting properties of an embrace!” explains Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at SuperfoodUK (superfooduk.com)