One of the best ways to help prevent getting sick this winter is to make sure your immune system is as strong as possible before the cold weather starts and the flu viruses make an appearance.
Ideally this means making sure your diet is filled with fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables, packed with antioxidants to bolster your immune system.
However, as many people don’t achieve this aim, a multivitamin may be their best option to help to ensure they get all the vitamins they need. Giulia Criscuolo, pharmacist and expert in complementary medicine, says that a good multivitamin helps to support and maintain a healthy, strong immune system to fight viruses.
When you feed the body properly, it will have all the nutrients to help to maintain a strong immune system.
But sometimes there is no way to dodge a flu virus. You can, however, shorten the time you feel sick and alleviate symptoms if you catch the flu in time.
Here is a list of winter flu-alleviating remedies:
- Natural immune-boosters: Examples include oil of oregano and garlic. Both offer effective protection against a broad spectrum of bacteria, viruses and protozoa.
- Vitamin D: This is an important player in overall healthy immune function, as well as being an effective antimicrobial agent. It produces 200 to 300 different antimicrobial peptides in your body that kill bacteria, viruses and fungi.
- Take a high-quality source of animal-based omega-3 fats: Increase your intake of healthy and essential fats such as omega-3's.
- Curcumin: Studies show that a promising new treatment for severe inflammation – which is at the heart of most chronic diseases – is found in curcumin, a natural ingredient in the common spice, turmeric.
- Iron supplement: Almost 80% of the global population is iron deficient and up to 30% is anaemic, contributing to mild cognitive impairment, according to research. Iron is poorly absorbed from conventional iron supplements, which may have negative side effects.
- Zinc: Zinc lozenges have also been shown in some studies to reduce the severity and duration of colds if taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms. It’s for this reason primarily that zinc is found in many over-the-counter cold remedies.
- Vitamin C: This works as an antioxidant which boosts immune function and has long been known to alleviate common cold symptoms by shortening their duration and improving symptom severity, possibly due to the anti-histamine effect of high-dose vitamin C. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamin C. Some cereals are also fortified with vitamin C.
- Flu vaccinations: The South African Medical Journal indicates that “vaccination is the most effective strategy to prevent influenza”. They highly recommend annual flu vaccines before the start of the flu season. According to the article, an estimate of between 6 ,734 and 11,619 individuals die of seasonal influenza-associated illness in South Africa each year, adding even more weight to their vaccination argument.
Note: Criscuolo recommends you should stock up now so you don’t waste any time when that first sniffle starts.
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https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/ Zinc: National Institutes of Health; Updated: February 11, 2016.
https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/ Micronutrient deficiencies; Iron deficiency anaemia.
http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/ida/en/ Vitamin C: National Institutes of Health; Updated: February 11, 2016.
https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/ Recommendations pertaining to the use of influenza vaccines and influenza antiviral drugs, 2016.
Sibongile Walaza, Cheryl Cohen: South African Medical Journal 2016;106(3):251-253. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2016.v106i3.10586 http://www.samj.org.za/index.php/samj/article/view/10586
Giulia Criscuolo: pharmacist, expert in complementary medicine and life coach; Complementary health consultant to Coyne Healthcare