Recently, I wrote of my hideous brush with the dreaded lurgy.
This week I am making every endeavour to be proactive and prep myself for the upcoming spate of winter colds and flus.
Will it make a difference? Maybe not. But if I can reduce the severity or length of illness, even a little, then that’s a good thing. Right?
I’ve done a fair bit of searching around on the topic of natural remedies and immunity boosting. There’s not a lot of medical evidence that supports the use of natural therapies in fighting off colds and flus, but what I have found I thought I’d share! So here is my list of the top things I found that could contribute to boosting immunity.
There’s some speculation that a diet rich in tomatoes can help to prevent all sorts of illness. Evidently the lycopene in tomatoes is what does it, acting as an antioxidant, which helps the white blood cells.
My verdict: I’ll go with that!! I’ll make a tomato-based pasta or casserole or soup once a week at least, and include some tasty raw tomatoes (if I can ever find tomatoes that taste like real tomatoes) in my daily raw veggie snack box.
Okay, so apparently whey protein is super good for you. And there are a lot of studies being done around the anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties of whey protein. It contains animo acids which may help to make glutathione, which is an important anti-oxidant. And awesomely, you can find whey protein in yoghurt.
My verdict: I’m going to get hold of a whey protein powder for a shake or have in a yoghurt smoothie mid-morning. Also, I am going to always make sure I mix that watery liquid back into the yoghurt rather than pouring it off down the sink; that’s where the whey is!
There’s a heap of what seems to me to be completely unfounded information
on the internet about the AH-MAY-ZING powers of lemon water. Load of rubbish, I bet. But for some reason, I’ve bought into this one anyway. Well at least lemons are full of Vitamin C, aren’t they?
My verdict: I still can’t really tell you why, but I’m going to have a big glass of warm lemon water before breakfast every day. It feels like a worthy way to start the day! 🙂
Stress and sleep
There have been a lot of studies proving that lack of sleep can contribute to a compromised immune system. As can high stress levels.
My verdict: I honestly think lack of sleep is my biggest problem at the moment and why I generally am prone to catching all the bugs around. Unfortunately with a baby and pre-schooler I can’t do much to get more sleep. SIGH. On the stress front, though, I’m not a huge stress-head, being a bit more mindful couldn’t hurt.
Echinacea and other supplements
There is some evidence out there that echinacea can possibility reduce the length/severity of colds and flus. However, most trials have been done with different preparations and quantity of the herb, so it’s hard to know how much to take. In terms of general supplements I always feel better when I am taking Vitamin B, it seems to boost my energy levels.
My verdict: So I’m going to continue with my Vitamin B but also take some Echinacea for a few months, at a dose recommended by my naturopath.
There’s a lot of stuff out there about the anti-oxidant power of the ‘superfoods’. And there’s much talk too about the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) value of different foods. But of course, like anything, it’s not that simple. There’s some evidence that ORAC is useless on its own and the body needs other stuff, like uric acid, to help the ORAC be useful. Then there’s other important elements to take into account like vitamins A, E and C, carotenoid terpenoids, plant phenols… Read about it here if you’re that way inclined.
My verdict: All this superfood stuff is too hard. I’m just going to make an effort to increase my intake of brightly coloured and wholesome fruits and veggies including dark leafy greens, sweet potato, chilli, berries, broccoli, artichokes, cabbage, beetroot, apples, garlic and citrus fruits. And it’s really good to eat nuts, seeds, dried fruits, whole grains, protein and good oils such as olive oil and fish oils. So I’ll do that. I’ll have loads of nutrient-packed juices and smoothies, meat casseroles and chicken soups, and yummy raw fruit and veggie salads. Yum!
Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to treat ailments. Who am I to argue with that?
My verdict: I’ve got an appointment booked in to see my acupuncturist to have some treatments to boost my immunity. We’ll see what comes of it, hey!
A final word – what the medical fraternity says
My doctor said the only way to prevent cold and flu is to get a flu shot, stay away from sick people and wash my hands well. I don’t know what you think, but I didn’t find that advice to be enormously helpful.
Most medical websites poo-poo any form of natural remedy and suggest that it’s basically all codswallop, with no empirical evidence to back it up. Which is fine, but what gives me the irrits is that most of these websites also suggest that a ‘healthy diet’ is one of the things that can help to boost immunity. Which is ironic because a lot of natural remedies are of course found in food sources.
Where I stand on all of this is that I believe in a combination of traditional and complementary therapies to treat and prevent illness.
And right now I swear to god I’ll do anything I can to not get sick again, like I was the other week. It was shit.
So I’ll focus on eating well, taking my supplements, sleeping well (HA!!), have some acupuncture and drink that stupid lemon water. Oh, and keep my filthy hands clean.
Do you always get sick in winter? What do you do to boost your immunity?
Thank you for this Carolyn, it’s exactly what I need right now. The baby has had a cold for the last week and now I have a sinus infection (and we’ve both had flu shots, so I must be doing something wrong!). I think some homemade tomato soup is on the cards x
Great minds clearly think alike, ladylove. I have been hitting my acupuncturist for immunity for the past month – and will continue to do so in the lead up to my half marathon in July. I live in a cesspit of wintergerms – every year it is seriously disgusting how much I get sick – and I have a lot I want to get done this year so I have no time for such silliness.
Incidentally I also take a garlic, Echinacea and blah blah supplement (sorry, forgotten the third thing) whenever I get a sniffle. I came down with something hideous on the weekend and thought I was in for a long week, but it cleared up in 2-3 days and I was back out running this morning. Wooohooo!
Was it because of the acupuncture and the supplement? Who the fuck knows. But what I do know is that I am going to continue with both. I have also given up my habit of a lifetime and cut the nailbiting – it’s been 10 days now. That has to help as well.
I love acupuncture and lemon water. I have two little ones too, so sleep is a distant memory…and with a job, family etc, the stress is right up there too.