Steps to Avoiding the Common Cold

Steps to Avoiding the Common Cold

Author -  Good Health

Colds and flus are caught when we‘re exposed to a virus which enters our respiratory tract by breathing in when someone sneezes or coughs, through air conditioning or touching surfaces such as hand railing, door handles or money. Viruses can live on a surface for up to six hours, which is why it’s really important to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. If you’re sick, covering your mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing will prevent the further spread of germs. Viruses survive well in cooler temperatures and over this period we tend to exercise less and spend more time indoors with the heaters going.

Preventative medicine is still the ideal approach for maintaining optimum health. By keeping our immune system in tip-top condition with natural immune supportive compounds, our body is better equipped to combat invading bugs. Here are some diet and lifestyle suggestions to optimise immune function.

1. Decrease stress

There is now extensive research confirming the negative impact of stress on immune function. To help minimise stress, reassess your lifestyle, take up stress-reducing hobbies such as yoga or meditation and add humour to your life - laughter has been shown to improve immune function.

2. Exercise

Regular exercise stimulates the release of ‘feel good’ hormones to reduce stress. Exercise also increases levels of white blood cells, however excessive strenuous exercise can deplete the immune system so don’t overdo it.

3. Sleep soundly

Sleep deprivation has marked changes on immune function decreasing it and making you more susceptible to infection.

4. Maintain a healthy diet

Eating healthy food provides immune cells with what they need to function properly. Immune enhancing foods include fresh, brightly coloured fruit and vegetables - garlic, onions, ginger, green tea, manuka honey, whey protein, shitake mushrooms, eggs, natural yoghurt and fish. Reduce sugar intake. Sugar compromises the function of white blood cells. Drink plenty of purified water or herbal teas to keep mucus membranes hydrated so they can keep the viruses out.

5. Decrease toxic habits

Stop smoking, limit alcohol intake and leave the junk food alone. These can all cause toxic build-up and oxidative damage, which impairs immune cell function.

6. Supplements

A deficiency in any nutrient can affect the functionality of the immune system. Nutrient deficiencies are the most common cause of immune suppression.

7. Healthy habits

Cold and flu viruses are spread by transferring droplets of fluid from your nose and mouth. To avoid this happening:
- keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth
- wash hands frequently with soap and water
- do not share cups and cutlery
- throw away used tissues (and avoid using handkerchiefs)
- cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing

8. Immune boosting nutrients

Vitamin A and Beta Carotene are extremely important for healthy mucus membranes lining the nose, mouth and throat, the potential entry point for viruses. Additionally, vitamin A enhances white blood cell activity and antibody response.
Vitamin C – has many immune boosting functions including enhancing white blood cell function, increasing the viral fighting substance interferon and supporting healthy mucus membranes.
B Vitamins – this important group of vitamins are vital for the optimal functioning of the immune system.
Iron – low iron levels are linked to decreased immune responsiveness.
Zinc – a crucial mineral for immune function and has direct anti-viral properties, inhibiting the replication of viruses.
Beta 1.3 glucan – a yeast derivative that has a potent immune cell activation action.

9. Immune boosting herbs

Astragalus – raises white blood cell levels to improve immune function.
Echinacea – an extensively researched and valuable herb to activate the immune system.

10. Anti-viral herbs

Olive leaf – the active component Oleuropein offers potent anti-viral and antioxidant actions.
Pau d’Arco – this South American herb possesses antiviral and anti-parasitic activity
Andrographis – used in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine to help reduce fevers and for its anti-viral and immune stimulating properties.

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