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There are so many things you can do to optimise your immune system and reduce your risk of succumbing to an infection. Colds and flus are highly contagious and easily spread via a droplet in the air from sneezing or coughing. You can become infected by touching a contaminated surface or by shaking hands then transferring the virus to your mouth, eyes or nose.
10 Top Tips to Prevent Colds/Flus
- Wash your hands frequently, particularly if people around you are unwell
- Try to avoid crowded places as much as possible during the flu season
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains. This ensures that you get the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are essential for a healthy immune system
- Eat adequate protein. This can be obtained from animal sources such as lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy foods or from plant sources such as legumes, beans and tempeh
- Load up on onion and garlic for their antimicrobial properties. Ginger and chili are very warming foods and can be beneficial in the cooler months
- Get plenty of sleep and make time for relaxation and enjoyable activities
- Engage in moderate exercise at least 4 times per week to improve immunity and aid elimination of wastes though the circulatory and lymphatic systems
- Avoid processed foods
- Minimize or avoid alcohol and caffeine as these leach valuable nutrients from the body
The Best Herbs and Nutrients to Fight Colds and Flus
Echinacea is one of the most well known herbal medicines for improving immunity and fighting infection. It was traditionally used by the Native Americans for this very reason and this is now supported by scientific and clinical studies. Good quality Echinacea should give a significant tingling sensation in the mouth. If it does not tingle it is not worth using.
Elderberry and elderflowers are traditionally used to treat colds and flus. It has an antiviral activity against a number of influenza viruses and enhances the immune system. Other herbs that improve immunity are Andrographis, Cat’s claw and Pau d’Arco.
Important immune enhancing nutrients include vitamin C and zinc. A deficiency of these nutrients depletes the immune system and leads to an increased incidence of infection. B complex vitamins are great for general health and immunity while vitamin A is essential for healthy mucous membranes which line the respiratory tract.
When was the last time you had your vitamin D levels tested? Vitamin D is a vital nutrient for calcium absorption, growth, healthy bones but also a critical nutrient for your immune system. One of the most common nutrient deficiencies in Australia, vitamin D can be easily tested via a blood test.