Are you ill? Do you know someone that is?
Chances are the answer is yes – there’s a lot of it going around and sometimes it seems impossible to escape even if you’re usually a healthy person that exercises regularly, eats well, and looks after themselves.
Well, don’t beat yourself up, the change in season can be a tough time for even the fittest person out there. We’ve had a few cooler days and nights, and now we seem to be back to sunshine every other day; it’s a lot for the body to handle and the ups and downs in temperature can wreak havoc on out internal homeostasis.
The good news is that nature has provided us with a treasure trove of remedies that we can turn to when the man flu strikes, but first, let’s talk about our immune system.
Did you know that 70% of our immune system resides within the gut? Now think about how we abuse our gut health daily with bad food choices, too many stressful situations, not enough variety in our diet, too many antibiotics and other medications…and it’s no wonder that a really good defence system against winter colds and flu should begin here; with gut health. There’s a reason that our Mums tell us to eat chicken soup when we’re unwell – bone broth is a fantastically easy way to sooth the gut lining as it contains collagen and has been shown in studies to reduce the levels of the fermicute bacteria (the bad ones). If you’re vegan, or if the idea of bone broth just doesn’t sit that well with you, foods that are high in collagen or collagen boosting foods are: egg whites (if your vegetarian), leafy greens, citrus and sulphur foods.
Now, on to the remedies.
Of course there’s Echinacea which will be familiar to most of you and you can buy it in handy tablets from most pharmacies. It’s best taken at the time of being unwell, not continuously as a preventative measure. So dose up when you feel unwell and then put it back in your medicine cupboard.
Thyme and oregano are two of the most potent anti-viral and anti-bacterial herbs out there and they are also easily accessible in your local supermarket.
Garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper are all amazing for getting inside and fighting off any bad bugs. Garlic is also a natural antibiotic so make sure you dose up when you’re feeling unwell. It’s most potent when it’s raw (sorry), but rather than trying to chow down on a whole clove; chop it up small and sprinkle on top of your food. Ginger goes in most Chinese herbal medicines and is not only good for fighting off a cold but also supports the immune system at the same time. Our Hot Citrus Bomb has a healthy dose of cayenne in it, so pick one up when you're next in.
Liquorice, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory, and fennel are also great. Are you sensing a theme here? That’s because there is one – strong tasting herbs and spices are the ones to go for when you’re under the weather. If you were a flu bug would you like being suffocated with hot cayenne or spicy ginger? The answer is no! All of these spicy and bitter herbs are really good at getting in and breaking up infections. The Trio Shot is an absolute must when you're feeling under the weather!
To make your own cough mixture boil up some thyme, oregano and liquorice root and reduce it down and then add a spoonful of honey.
To make a great herbal infusion add fennel, ginger, thyme and star anise to some water and boil it up to make a tea.
Eat what’s in season. Nature has a great way of providing us with the necessary antidotes to lots of seasonal sicknesses and fruit and veg that’s in season has compounds in to help you combat sickness.
Make sure you’re not deficient in Zinc, Magnesium or Vitamin C as these can help to curtail the length of an illness and regardless of that are essential for hundreds of reactions within the body.
Stay away from mucus forming foods like dairy if you’re feeling stuffy and blocked up and reduce sugar as well as bugs love to feed off sugar! It's hard not to reach for the comfort food when you're feeling low, but actually what your body is craving is nutritious, simple and low sugar food.
Drink lots of fluids!
Eat well – get those nutrients in!