Keep your immune system strong with these tips & tricks!
Prevention really is better than cure. Aside from regular healthy habits such as eating an antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory plant-heavy diet, drinking plenty of water, getting adequate sleep, ensuring good personal hygiene, and keeping up a sound exercise routine, the below additions may be just what you need to keep your immune system soldiering on!
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) – ACV tastes like a very tangy vinegar, and is extremely antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial, detoxifying, probiotic-containing and alkalising for the body. All of these effects work synergistically to fight bacteria and viruses in order to keep the immune system firing! Rich in acids and enzymes that promote healthy gut bacteria and enhance the absorption of minerals from food you eat, it really is a substance to keep in your diet everyday. Start drinking 1 tbsp in water daily or several times daily, especially in the early stages of infection. You could even add some Manuka honey in, whilst getting used to the taste.
Olive leaf extract – Olive leaf extract is a natural extract rich in bioactive plant polyphenols that offer potent antiviral and antioxidant properties. Research reveals that the constituents in olive leaf extracts (such as oleuropein) are effective against disease-promoting microbes, including those which cause influenza and other respiratory infections. Try consuming 15mls daily for a powerful boost!
Raw Manuka honey – All honey is not created equal! Manuka honey is the strong stuff, and is made by the bees that feed on the “manuka bush”, producing a powerful substance termed Unique Manuka Factor (UMF). UMF is extraordinarily antibacterial, antiviral and immune-boosting. To determine the quality, look for the highest UMF number on the packaging, indicating its medicinal strength (note, the higher UMF, the more pricey). Sore throat? Swollen glands? Simply take a teaspoon at a time, mixed in warm water and ACV or taken straight from the spoon (particularly good if you have a sore throat). A side note, because I know you're thinking it- the powerful UMF benefits most definitely outweigh any concerns regarding sugar content! From a purely prevention perspective, choose a little as your sweetener of choice in porridge, tea or desserts throughout winter.
Probiotics – You've heard it before but I'll say it again- good health begins in the gut! The immune system is no exception with 70% of our immune system in the gut. Probiotics can reduce inflammation, improve intestinal barrier function and stimulate innate immune responses. Probiotics should also be supported by prebiotics, specific foods such as artichoke, pear, bananas, almonds, onions, garlic and leeks that feed healthy bacteria and limit the growth of pathogens. In a study conducted amongst already unwell patients, cold symptoms were reported less severe and shorter in duration in those taking probiotics.
Already have a cold? Try this nifty trick! Place 3-4 chopped onions by your bed overnight whilst you sleep. This not only draws in any circulating germs (preventing you from reabsorbing them), but also releases antimicrobial substances into the air around you to fight infection. Be sure to throw the used onions away each morning and replenish for the duration of your cold.