With changing temperatures, icy nights and hot stuffy offices, keeping your immune system in tip top condition at this time of year proves rather difficult. Especially when one person around you catches something nasty, inevitably passing it on to you and everyone else, much like a chinese whisper. Then what happens? Well, you could set it to music. We rush to the doctors to rule out anything sinister and without much consideration, we’re handed a prescription for antibiotics that we take, willingly, not realising that just as an antibiotic obliterates all the bad bacteria in your body, it also does away with the good. Especially as far as your gut is concerned, which is the focal point for much of our wellbeing. At that point, our bodies have certainly overcome the infection but the strength of our immune system is left on the floor, as it takes a considerable amount of time for them to leave your body. So unless it’s absolutely necessary to take them – we won’t tell you not to, that’s your doctor’s job and your own choice – allowing your body to heal naturally will make you stronger in the longrun.
Let’s try to prevent this vicious cycle from beginning in the first place by upgrading our immune systems with the following natural measures.
Zinc and Vitamin C
Taking a daily dose of vitamin C and zinc, a chewable tablet that combines the two will do the trick, you’ll keep yourself ticking along nicely. Be mindful not to overdo the zinc as this can have an adverse effect on your immune system, the recommended daily allowance – 15mg – is vital for cells of the immune system. What’s more, if you do happen to get yourself a sore throat, the zinc will coat it, dull the pain and speed up your natural recovery. Though it’s found in meat and seafood, it can be hard to get enough of it into you with food alone. Studies also suggest that zinc can help to prevent the cold virus from replicating and ease the severity of a cold if you catch one. In short, get it into you!
Sage and Echinacea
We’ve long vouched for the benefits of echinacea as a protective measure against colds and flus. It’s wise to take 8 drops in a glass of water one a day to avoid entering into the cycle we speak of above, but if you do find yourself run down, you can up it to three glass of water per day with 8 drops. What’s more, if you wake up with a funny throat, the A Vogel Echinacea and Sage Throat Spray is the bees knees and far more effective (and natural) than the likes of Difflam, as far as we’re concerned. The humble sage leaf is loaded with anti-oxidants and offers lots of magnesium, calcium, phytosterols and flavonoids which are among your immune system’s best pals. Few are aware of sage’s potent, broad spectrum anti-biotical properties and the fact that it’s a brilliant immune system stimulant. If the throat’s already gotten to you, this spray works wonders as sage also boasts anti-septic properties so it’ll nip it in the bud before the doctor needs to be called.
Elderberry is said to both prevent colds from starting in the first place and shorten their length if they do get you. We recommend Pukka’s Elderberry Syrup which, unlike some of the other drinkable herbs, is quite a pleaseant organic blend including Ginger and Thyme.
Also in this wonder syrup, you’ll find Elderberry juice, manuka honey 14+, trikatu and thyme, all of which have long been used to help support seasonal health. Nature’s goodness at its best! If syrup doesn’t do it for you, try Pukka’s Elderberry & Echinacea tea. Both delicious and beneficial.
Mushrooms are an incredible immune system booster, but oddly enough, we don’t hear them mentioned alongside the standard cold and flu fighters. A plate of fried mushrooms won’t do the trick, mind. Mushrooms are at their most beneficial when they’re mixed together. That’s where something such as Pukka’s Mushroom Gold comes in, making life a lot easier for the mushroom haters among us. This organic synergistic blend of Maitake, Reishi and Shiitake mushrooms with Nutrigest TM (Seaweed, Spirulina and Ginger) comes highly recommended by Functional Doctor, Dr Fionnula McHale at Invigorate Clinic. Mushrooms have been used for centuries to help support a healthy ecosystem. Delivering concentrated polysaccharides and beta-glucans, your immune system will love you for it.
You’ve never even heard of it, right? That’s normal. Glutathione is the most important and essential molecule we need in our bodies to stay healthy and keep all manner of disease at bay, from colds to cancer. It’s been touted by professionals who have studied Functional Medicine as the ‘maestro of the immune system’, ‘the mother of all antioxidant’ and ‘the master detoxifier’, yet many of our bodies don’t produce enough of it (due to an overload of toxins) and some of us are seriously lacking in it (this writer included). If you’ve found yourself suffering from prolonged, chronic issues that just won’t shift, such as lethargy and a weak, susceptible immune system, chances are, you’re lacking in Glutathione. While our bodies are supposed to recycle this combination of protein and amino acids, when our bodies become overloaded with toxins, and our livers are under pressure with said toxins, our Glutathione becomes depleted. You can read countless papers online that explain why this natural antioxidant is so vital to life, but figuring out how to naturally increase it is more challenging.
The following are widely recommended in Glutathione support:
Selenium – A powerful mineral, selenium must be absorbed through foods such as Brazil nuts as it’s not produced by the body. It’s a fantastic antioxidant that supports your Glutathione levels, your immune system in general as well as your thyroid.
Sulphur-rich foods – The reason Glutathione is so powerful is because it’s rich in sulphur which acts like a magnet onto which all the baddies that enter your body – toxins, free radicals etc – will stick and thus be gotten rid of, through your liver. Cruciferous veg such as broccoli and kale, onions and garlic are the best foods for upping your sulphur intake.
Milk Thistle – The liver’s hero, milk thistle boosts Glutathione levels and has long been used to support a healthy liver (the organ through which we detox our bodies).
Exercise – Regular exercise is an immune system booster anyway, it massively helps your detoxification process which, you’ll be glad to know, gives your Glutathione levels a much needed nudge.
Vitamin C – Among its many benefits, the kind of vitamins job is also to protect all other molecules from oxidative stress, and, according to multiple studies, maintains your natural levels of glutathione.
The more we discover, the more we wil share.