Managing Cold and Flu Symptoms

Despite your best efforts at preventing infection through diet, exercise and supplementation, at some stage this winter you may succumb to a cold or flu. This can occur particularly if stress or life events get in the way of maintaining the healthy habits that help keep your immune system strong. The good news is that should you find yourself ‘under the weather’, there are measures you can take to get you back on your feet

Going Viral

Both the common cold and influenza (flu) are caused by viruses, most commonly the rhinovirus. What many people may not realise is that antibiotics only target bacteria and are not able to kill the viruses responsible for colds and flu. Fortunately there are herbs and nutrients that can help manage these viral infections and keep your immune defences strong.

Herbal Heroes 

A number of traditional herbs have been clinically shown to improve immune function and reduce symptoms of the common cold and flu. For example, use of the Ayurvedic herb andrographis can reduce both the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms. In addition, picorrhiza has been used traditionally in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to help maintain a healthy immune system, and it is now understood that this herb has both anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating actions. Elderberry is a mainstay of traditional Western herbalism for its anti-catarrhal and fever-reducing activity, helping to relieve acute cold symptoms as well as recurrent coughs. If you are unwell with a respiratory virus, speak with us and we can recommend a herbal formula that contains these immune-supporting heroes. 

Fungi Force Field 

Medicinal mushrooms have a long history of use in Asian cultures and are now known to have potent antiviral activity. In particular, the immune-boosting potential of reishi, shiitake, cordyceps and coriolus mushrooms have been extensively studied. Not only can they help reduce the length and severity of an acute cold, but they can help prevent future recurrences. We can help you choose a good combination of concentrated extract of these mushrooms to reduce the symptoms and severity of your cold. 

Getting Rid of the ‘Gunk’ 

Mucus and phlegm are signs that your immune system is hard at work, but the resulting congestion can lead to blocked sinuses and breathing difficulty. The decongestant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial essential oils of eucalyptus, thyme, lavender and peppermint may help to reduce the nasal and sinus congestion that accompanies upper respiratory tract infections.Mucus congestion can also cause irritating or chesty coughs. Liquorice is recognised in Western herbal medicine for its soothing, anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties. An extract of liquorice root can reduce irritation of the respiratory mucous membranes, helping to soothe dry coughs and relieve mild bronchitis. The Ayurvedic herb adhatoda is a helpful bronchodilator also with expectorant properties. By encouraging the clearing of congestion-causing phlegm, your airway becomes more open and that irritating wheeze reduces. 

The Lost Art of Convalescence

In this modern world you may feel obliged to ‘soldier on’ despite coughing, sneezing and operating at less than optimal capacity. Taking the time to rest and recuperate reduces the risk of spreading the infection to your colleagues and helps you to recover sooner. The lifestyle prescription when you are unwell is sleep, sleep and more sleep! Resist the temptation to check your work emails. Instead, focus your efforts on restoring your energy levels with warm, nourishing foods such as soups; drink plenty of fluids to replace those lost as you blow your nose repeatedly; and avoid mucus-promoting, inflammatory foods such as dairy and processed foods.

Fight Back and Stay Well 

If a cold or flu finds its way to you this winter and is stopping you from performing at your best, don’t despair – we can recommend a nutritional programme plus any herbal or nutritional formulas with antiviral, anti-inflammatory, decongestant and immune-boosting power to support your convalescence and help get you back in the game again.

Top Tips when feeling unwell

1. WATER, WATER, WATER.  Drink up. The flu can leave you dehydrated, especially if have vomiting or diarrhea. So be sure to get enough fluids. Water is fine. Try to avoid sugary drinks including fruit juices. If you are finding it hard to eat and get some vitamins then smoothies (especially green smoothies) are the way to go rather than juice. A quick healthy smoothie- 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries, non dairy milk or water, 2x egg whites (protein), juice of half a fresh lemon, tsp freshly grated ginger and handful of spinach or kale. Blend and drink slowly.
 So are fruit juices, soda, and electrolyte beverages. You may want to stay away from caffeinated drinks, because caffeine is a diuretic which will dehydrate you.. Herbal tea with a UMF honey can soothe a sore throat.  Your urine should be pale yellow, almost colorless.

Warming healthy vegetables and chicken soup. Not the dehydrated cup of soup type but real home made (or good quality freshly bought soup) that doesn't have too much salt in it but alot of vegetables and the protein from chicken (you can use fish or beef) is important for recovery and repair of cells and tissue.

Fasting can have a beneficial effect too so if you don't feel like eating, don't force it. Listen to your body. Intermittent fasting has been proven to actually speed up the healing the process rather than store body fat. Just eat once of twice per day or sip the smoothies or home made soup. The last thing you want to do is put alot of pressure on the body with heavy meals.  

Relax and sleep as much as you need too but do move around every couple of hours so that your lymphatic system (responsible for clearing out the bugs) has a chance to pump around. It relies on muscle contraction as it doesn't have a heart to pump things around like the blood vessels do. 

Aim for minerals such as selenium and zinc which work to keep the immune system strong. These minerals are found in protein rich foods such as beans, nuts (especially Brazil nuts), seeds, meat, and poultry.

Another powerful antioxidant found in cruciferous vegetables like kale, collard greens, broccoli, and cabbage is Glutathione . So if you can make a soup or smoothie or fresh vegetable juice with these then great! 

Green Tea and lemon. The antioxidant benefits of green tea have been well documented and can support the immune system to fight infection, add a wedge of lemon to the mix for Vitamin C and you have a great combination. 

Eat your good fats such as salmon, olive oil, seeds, avocado, nuts, flaxseed, your good fats are essential for cell in the body think of them as an 'ozone layer' around the cells. They can help protect your cells from foreign invaders if you have a strong wall. 

Take probiotics, your gut makes more immunological in one day than the rest of your body does in your life! Restoring the good guys are really important especially if you are on antibiotics or have diarrhoea. A couple of good strains are: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and for reducing diarrhoea Saccharomyces Boulardii 
Choose a probiotic that needs to be in the fridge as if a shop is warm this activates the bacteria and can lead to them destroying themselves in the capsule so hence you won't get any benefit at all. I do promote the Metagenics or Ethical Nutrients range of probiotics

Vitamin C from either a tablet or sachet or smoothie can very beneficial to help body fight infection. Take around 1500-2000mg per day when unwell. 

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