Flu season is here. Fight the flu with these nutrition tips and ensure your immune system is geared up to protect you.
With the weather turning cold, bugs are just around the corner. Colder temperatures weaken the immune system, which makes this an opportune time to give your system the support it needs to fight off colds and flu. With this in mind, here’s an itinerary for an all-natural day to boost your immune system. Developed by lecturer in Naturopathic Medicine and nutritionist, Rick Hay, the plan gives your body all the support it needs to either shake off a lingering bug, or prevent you from succumbing to the office cold.
Whip up a tasty and colorful smoothie – use a handful of berries, coconut milk, with some vegan protein and spinach.
Why? Berries are useful for polyphenols, they are packed full of phytonutrients, antioxidants and Vitamin C. Adding a vegan protein such as hemp protein, contains fatty acids which helps the brain function and is crucial to preventing colds, as a lack of protein stops your immune system working. Spinach contains magnesium and iron for energy throughout the day and is rich in vitamin C. It’s also packed with numerous antioxidants, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of the immune systems.
Coconut yogurt with a piece of fruit, E.G. an apple or pear
Why? Fruit provides antioxidants that help boost vitamin intake throughout the day. The non-dairy yoghurt is lactose free and the it provides antioxidants that help boost vitamin intake throughout the day,
Either make your own or buy soup – ideally a vegetable soup with plenty of greens. Kale, broccoli and spinach are all great. Make sure you include some thermogenic spices, either cayenne pepper, garlic, black pepper, turmeric or cumin are all great options.
Why? The fiber in the vegetables provides a great internal cleanser and the green vegetables are packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as plenty of antioxidants. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties come from a heavy concentration of sulphur-containing compounds, such as allicin.
A couple of pieces of dark chocolate (cacao for vegans), pumpkin or sunflower seeds, coupled with a herbal supplement containing nasturtium, rosehip and elderflower with a Vitamin C capsule, such as these from Dr Dunner.
Why? Dark chocolate boosts energy levels and the seeds are full of nutrients, including phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin B-6. They’re also high in vitamin E, which is crucial in regulating and maintaining immune system functionality. The herbal supplements provide a high concentration of natural immune boosters in one hit, Nasturtium is high in vitamin C and is a natural antibiotic, full of immune boosting antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds. Rosehip is also rich in vitamin C – one of the richest natural sources – ideal to help fight colds and flu and combat respiratory problems. It is also high in lycopene to help fight viral infections. Elderflower has traditionally been used to help fight the flu and additionally helps prevent sinus issues and respiratory conditions.
A vegetarian, colorful stir fry with cashew nuts. Make sure you add ginger and garlic with soy sauce and serve with brown rice. You can also add fried tofu for protein.
Why? The colorful vegetables gives the body Vitamin C and the ginger has been traditionally used for its antiviral and antibacterial properties. You can use a mix of vegetables but make sure you include ginger and garlic for their natural immune boosting qualities. A sprinkling of fresh or dried oregano can also help due to its antibacterial properties. Serve with brown rice as it steadies blood sugar levels.
Stewed apples or baked pears – lightly cooked with cinnamon, almonds and raisins. Serve with a drizzle of honey.
Why? The anti-bacterial properties of the cinnamon, almonds and raisins will support the immune system and help regulate blood sugar to keep the body working at its optimum. The honey adds some anti-inflammatory properties.
After dinner drink:
Treat yourself to a glass of red wine after dinner.
Why? Red wine contains phytonutrients that are anti-ageing and help you to digest food. The flavonoids provide antioxidants and help support the immune system. However, an overindulgence in alcohol can weaken the system.
Keeping fit: Heavy exercise is not good if your immune system is already weakened, so if you feel like you are coming down with something, it is best to ease off on the workouts. To stay fit, take a brisk walk for 30 mins at 70 to 80% of cardio pace or do some light weights. Low Intensity training can deliver good results.
Try to avoid screen time an hour before bed and make sure you sleep for 7-8 hours. Ideally after soaking in a bath with magnesium salts. Spray your pillow with lavender essential oil to help you get a restful sleep.
Why? Resting for 7 or 8 hours, gives the body enough time to get into REM sleep and will help you recharge and repair. Soaking in a bath with magnesium salts allows your body to absorb the much-needed nutrient and the lavender oil will help you get a full night’s sleep.