This week Oliver McCabe is back to educate us on all things common cold related. Why do we present those nasty symptoms? What’s happening in our body? And most importantly, he goes through the various way that you can eat well to boost your immunity, meaning a fun-filled season lies ahead, with no need for balsam tissues.
With the cold and flu season in full throttle, choosing the right foods and nutrients will help your body and immune system fight off those germs! Colds are caused by any of more than two hundred viruses that infect the upper respiratory tract. They’re spread through the air, such as by sneezing or coughing, or by contact with a contaminated object. In response to an invasion by a cold virus, the membranes that line the nose and the throat become swollen and start producing additional mucus.
The result are symptoms that you’ll be well familiar with: congestion, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, fatigue, loss of appetite and a general feeling of nausea, all of which are your body’s way of expelling the virus and getting you to slow down and rest. These cold symptoms are your immune system’s attempts to flush out the virus. You may experience high fevers as a normal part of a cold. Most colds last for three to ten days. If cold symptoms persist over ten days, or they are accompanied by yellow or green mucus, call your doctor as there may be a more serious infection at play.
Colds especially target those whose immune systems are depressed. Our immune systems can take a major hit through a lack of optimum nutrition, a lack of exercise and heat, a lack of sufficient sleep, consumption of processed, refined and artificial foods (white sugar), consumption of medications, smoking cigarettes, sedentary lifestyles (avoidance of exercise), avoidance of sunlight (not spending enough time in nature), nutritional deficiencies of important minerals like zinc and exposure to pesticides, herbicides, preservatives and other chemicals.
The immune system works best in a warm environment, which is why the body creates a fever to turn up the temperature. The best treatment for a cold is to stimulate your natural defences as soon as the familiar symptoms first appear.
Eat Lightly. Steamed Mashed vegetables (carrots, sweet potato, in season potato, celery, turnip, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, broccoli), soups and broths only. This lets the body focus on healing, instead of on digestion. If you have lost your appetite, don’t force yourself to eat. It is fine not to eat for a day, but if a cold persists after a duvet day, your immune system does need some nutrients, plus protein, to replenish.
Keep hydrated. Drink plenty of bottled water at room temperature to cleanse away toxins and to keep the respiratory tract from drying out.
Increase consumption of ginger, onions, spices, fresh herbs and garlic to soups and broths. Homemade chicken soup or miso soup are always good, as has the protein for energy and strength. Regularly including foods rich in lactic acid bacteria in your diet, such as miso helps keep your intestinal flora healthy.
Hot water with lemon, manuka honey and cinnamon is a traditional cold remedy. Drink a cup 3 times a day to soothe the throat and chest, preventing mucus build-up, and to encourage a cleansing sweat.
Polyphenols found in green tea. These powerful antioxidants are believed not only to prevent cancer but to help keep the immune system healthy. Drinking green tea may help reduce cold symptoms.
Garlic has long been used for its antimicrobial properties. It is also thought to have antiviral potential from allicin, an antioxidant that is released when garlic is cut.
Fruits and vegetables contain a number of antioxidants as well as many vitamins and minerals. Eating 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day is the best way to stay healthy.
Food to Avoid during a cold?
Sugar decreases the number of white blood cells that your body produces and depresses your immune system, so eliminate refined sugars from your diet for the duration of your illness. Also be wary of fruit juices. Although they are a traditional treatment for colds, fruit juices-especially orange juice- usually contain far more sugar than they do vitamin C. If you want to drink juice, dilute it first.
Avoid milk and any other dairy products while you’re sick. They can encourage the production of mucus and phlegm that may only make you feel worse.
This year especially, you want to be on the ball to deal with nasty cold, flu and other infectious germs. Natural remedies are effective in helping fight these germs, relieve cold and flu symptoms, and boost and stimulate your immune system.
If you have been taking an antibiotic, the gut flora may be disturbed where up to 70% of the immune system lies, so it would be wise to take a probiotic supplement for at least a month to replenish the levels of good friendly bacteria to boost immune system. Keep the probiotics in the fridge. Buy at your local health food shop or pharmacy.
Take vitamin C to increase white blood cell activity to combat the cold virus. Let yourself take 1000mg of vitamin C powder with water. Make sure your Vitamin C powder has no artificial sweetener or refined sugar. Also take 15mg of Zinc mineral and antioxidant that is effective to take with Vitamin C for absorption reasons as vitamin C is water soluble and zinc is fat soluble, so they combine incredibly well together. Buy at your local health food shop or pharmacy.
Medicinal plants – some these plants can be beneficial in fighting germs. The best include astragalus – Used in traditional Chinese medicine to boost the immune system and as a shield to prevent respiratory conditions.
Propolis – Traditionally used in herbal medicine to fight infections. It can make echinacea and Vitamin C more effective in decreasing the severity of respiratory infections.
Garlic – Thanks to its antibacterial and antiseptic properties, it is well-known to help fight colds and the flu.
Elderberry – Used in some traditional medicines, particularly Indian medicine, for respiratory infections and excess mucus in the throat.
Keep yourself warm at all times. Even when you’re well, keep warm especially during autumn, winter and early spring.
Let yourself have plenty of rest. Lack of sleep depletes your energy reserves.
Unless you have a fever, go outside for a short walk, to keep mucus from settling into your body and to chase away the blues.
Keep a humidifier in your bedroom. Or burn Eucalyptus and Lavender oil in an essential oil burner and this will help with keeping your airways clear and promote sleep too.
If you have a sore throat gargle with salt water especially half a teaspoon of Himalayan fine rock salt as contains trace elements to relieve stagnancy on the respiratory system.
Keep your hands clean. Make sure you have adequate tissues for sneezing and to bin or flush them once used. Investing in a natural anti- bacterial hand spray may be handy, pardon the pun. Buy one with no chemicals to look after sensitive hands. A good nearby health food shop will have the all-natural sprays in stock. They are as reasonable and are just as effective as the supermarket and are gentler to the skin.
A viral infection only requires a single viral organism to enter your body, usually through your mouth or eyes. A person who rubs their eyes with their finger can instantly cause an infection of a single virus resting on their finger.
A virus can spread through liquid particles suspended in the air. When a person infected sneezes, vomits or coughs, they can create these particles.
Sanitizing surfaces (door handles) is a significant part of any defence against viral infections.
The human immune system is a truly amazing defence mechanism capable of recognising and destroying infectious organisms as well as carrying out immune surveillance that eliminates damaged or abnormal cells.
Also, stay fully hydrated, wash your hands after present in public places, before eating & sleeping, get plenty of rest and don’t stress yourself.
Don’t panic with your cold as stress also depletes the immune system. Look after yourself. Lots of body hugs.
Oliver McCabe Select Stores Dalkey