Winter is coming! With it often comes an increased chance of catching a nasty cold, the flu or a virus. I used to be plagued with terrible coughs and colds at this time of year, so I try and be extra vigilant when it comes to looking after my immunity. As far as supplements go, you can get specific ‘cold and flu’ type supplements such as these from Seven Seas, which contain echinacea (more on that in a moment) but I have found that there are also a few others you can consider as well.
Just as I was saying in last weeks supplements post, pills and potions don’t make up for a poor diet, that has to come first. Diet, supplements and of course lifestyle choices act in a cumulative way to improve health. You need all the pieces together to make the pretty jigsaw!
With immunity and lifestyle, I have personally found that stress is a major factor. In fact I now see any kind of illness as a sign that I need to slow down, take it easy and reduce my stress levels. A b vitamin complex can support a stressed out body and in turn support immunity.
Vitamin C is often a supplement linked to immune system support, but a lot of research into this has been inconclusive. Personally, whenever I start to feel those first effects of an illness coming on – like headache, stiff neck etc, then I had a dissolvable vitamin C tablet in water. It could be psychosomatic, but I really do feel it helps.
Zinc is a trace element essential for proper function of the immune system. You should be covered if you take a good multivitamin, but could look into a specific supplement if you feel that would be of benefit.
As for herbal supplements echinacea is the one that tends to spring to mind for immunity. I have looked into research on this and as much as the research is inconclusive, I know many people who have taken this and found that it helps. It’s not recommended for long term use, but if taken when you feel you are getting a cold it could potentially shorten the illness.
Probiotics could also be useful in protecting the body against infection, two fold. A healthy digestive tract will ensure that you absorb the most nutrients from the food you eat, in turn supporting your immunity, and the right probiotic balance in the gut will help prevent any ‘bad’ bacteria from causing any problems
Whole food ‘supplements’ are definitely worth looking into, and as much as I have called them supplements they are basically just foods you can incorporate into your every day diet. Garlic, ginger and spices can all help the immune system, add them to soups, stews, curries and stir fries. If you do find you have a cold, try my Magical Cold Busting Smoothie recipe for a spicy ginger kick!
Getting your probiotics in from food sources is just as good if not better than via supplements. I like raw apple cider vinegar and raw sauerkraut for natural healthy bacteria. Those dairy based probiotic drinks aren’t the best choice if you already have a cold, as dairy can increase mucus in the body (ick!)
Honey is another good one, nothing soothes a sore throat like honey, lemon and ginger in warm water! Manuka honey has been shown to help with immunity in some cases. Try adding a spoonful to porridge or spreading on some whole grain toast for breakfast.
Do you have any supplements or foods that you swear by when it comes to boosting your immunity?
*please consider if your personal situation would benefit from a discussion with a medical professional before experimenting with supplements.