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Alternative Health Supplies :: Colds & Flu Advice

Colds & Flu Advice

Check our our new Childrens, Baby and Expecting Mothers Section

Stay Fighting Fit through Winter

There’s fog in the air, and a cold wind blowing in the mornings.  Winter is upon us.

Now is the time we traditionally hunker down, eat comfort food, and try to stave off the sniffles.

This article will provide some guidance about the best methods to avoid common winter illnesses and minimise their effects if they strike.

Winter Food

Winter is traditionally the time for slow cooking of preserved foods.  In the modern world we have access to a full spectrum of fresh food all year round, but the traditionally summer foods are more expensive and don’t fit the style of cooking we prefer at this time of year.

Winter vegetables contain an abundance of nutrients, and if cooked in the right way can retain many of their nutrients.  In fact, some nutrients, such as lycopene, found in tomatoes, become far more available to the body through cooking.

But some nutrients, like Vitamin C, can be destroyed by the cooking process.

Boiled vegetables can retain many of their nutrients, as long as they’re not boiled for an excessive time as the nutrients can be leeched out into the water. Using a slow cooker is an ideal way to maintain all the nutrients in the pot.

Anti-oxidants are found in high quantities in green leafy vegetables, but less so in root vegetables, so don’t cut salads entirely from your winter meal planning.


Cold and Flu germs are passed most commonly via the hands.  The sufferer often infects themselves when they touch an infected surface and then their own eyes, nose or mouth.

Thorough antibacterial hand washing is probably the single best thing you can do to minimise the chances of catching a cold or flu.  The waterless antibacterial products now on the market are convenient to have in your bag at all times.  Be aware that these products do contain alcohol and will dry out your skin.  To combat this, it is a good idea to use a hand moisturiser to lessen the impact. 

Staying hydrated is essential in winter.  The lower temperatures may fool us into dropping our fluid intake, but it remains essential to overall good health. More specifically, dehydration reduces the body’s ability to detox sticky virus laden mucus from the sinus.

Staying active is also essential to good health in winter.  Exercise stimulates the body’s production of its own natural immune response.  But be wary, too much exercise can in fact depress one’s immune system. So moderate exercise within your own capability is perfect.

Specific Nutrients

There are some scientifically established nutrients which can boost the immune system and reduce the severity of colds.   The best source of these nutrients is always from food sources as discussed above.         However if you find your diet is deficient of these items, supplementation is recommended. 

Vitamin C Vitamin C has long been used to lessen the severity of colds.  It is a powerful booster to the immune system, which may increase resistance to infection.  Clinical studies have been able to show that it can reduce the length of a cold by a reasonable amount, particularly in children.  Some natural sources are fresh citrus fruits, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, and kiwi.  The recommended allowance is 60mg for adults and 45mg for children.

Zinc Has been found to boost natural immunity.  There are studies showing it can be effective, particularly if there is some existing deficiency.  Zinc is depleted in the body by alcohol, smoking and through sweat.  Natural sources of Zinc are raw oysters, fish, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, mushrooms, egg yolks and legumes.  Daily recommended allowance is 15mg for adults and 10mg for children.

Garlic Garlic is a traditional remedy for colds and flu and may have some specific use for chesty conditions. There is also some evidence that it can reduce the length and severity of a cold. It is great idea to use garlic generously in your cooking during the winter, and/or supplementation when fighting a cold.

Probiotics Maintaining a healthy digestive and immune system is the best way to assist the body to fight off the cold and flu before it takes hold.  Studies have shown that maintaining good digestion through probiotics has a direct and positive benefit on the immune system.  Probiotics are in yogurts, sour milks, and fermented foods, including miso and tofu. 

Antioxidants boost the immune system and help fight free radicles. Some naturally rich sources are:

1. Elderberry - contains in flavonoids, alkaloids, and glycosides

2. Grape Seed and Resveratrol- contains flavonoids, known as OPCs

3. Olive Leafcontains oleuropein which inhibits fermentative bacteria.

Superfoodsare a powdered form of a combination of foods that contain important vitamins, mineral and antioxidants which can be added into a drink. It is a good source to use to supplement.

Multivitamins are also a good source of supplementation when there are deficiencies in diet.

Click for our Herbal Tea Guide for suggestions for Cold Relief

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