Prevention is always better than a cure. Here are 5 ways to support your immune system, which may help you to avoid a nasty cough or cold this winter or reduce the intensity and duration of symptoms, if you get sick.
You can’t be healthy without an adequate sleep. Good quality sleep is essential for normal functioning of all body systems, including your immunity.
That’s why you are more likely to get sick when you are sleep deprived. Sleep health survey conducted in Australia in 2016 showed that up to 45% of Australian adults don’t get adequate sleep.¹,² Based on the report by US based National Sleep Foundation in 2015, the recommended amount of sleep for an adult is 7-9h every night.¹
If you have trouble sleeping you can try a herbal formula with Ziziphus, Passionflower, Albizia and Polygala traditionally used in Chinese and Western herbal medicine to help promote deep, restful sleep without being habit forming.₃
You can also opt for a bedtime herbal tea with popular relaxing herbs such as Chamomile, Lemonbalm, Lavender, Valerian and Limeflower.
Eat diet rich in immune boosting superfoods such as ginger, turmeric, garlic, onions, shitake mushrooms and fermented vegetables. These can keep the winter bugs away and promote the health of good bacteria in the gut, where more than 75% of our immune cells reside. Taking a high quality probiotic supplement may help maintain healthy immune system and reduce the risk of upper respiratory infections.₄,₅
- Keep moving
Regular movement and moderate level of exercise on most days, have a number of health benefits, including boosting your immunity. Opt for exercising outdoors as much as possible to also increase your exposure to sunlight. In winter we are more likely to be low in Vitamin D, which plays a huge role in immunity and protection against colds and flu.15
- Herbal medicine
Herbal medicine can be a powerful way to boost your immunity and vitality this winter. Formulas which combine herbs such as Astragalus, Ligustrum, Codonopsis and Siberian Ginseng can be used to help boost immunity and build resistance against minor infections.₆
If you happen to catch a cold herbs such as Echinacea, Andrographis and Olive leaf13 can assist reducing the severity and duration of mild or uncomplicated viral and bacterial infections.₇ In traditional Chinese medicine Japanese Honeysuckle has been used to clear heat, which may be useful for cold or flu symptoms accompanied by fever.₇
If your symptoms include an annoying cough then reach out for traditional soothing herbs like Elecampane, White Horehound, Aster and Licorice, which can help relieve dry or wet coughs and clear mucus from the lungs.₈
- Nutritional Supplementation
Vitamin C supports healthy immune function and can help your chances of avoiding common cold.9,10 High doses of Vitamin C supplementation may cause tummy upset as it’s naturally acidic so look out for a supplement that contains buffered forms of Vitamin C such as calcium ascorbate and sodium ascorbate.
Zinc has many important functions in the body, including immune regulation.11 Unfortunately, many people are not consuming adequate amounts of this mineral in their diets. When you are choosing a zinc supplement opt for an organic form with high bioavailability (easy to absorb), such as zinc glycinate.12
Vitamin D: several studies have shown the link between Vitamin D levels and the risk of developing upper respiratory tract infections.15
Dr. Michael Holick, the leading authority on Vitamin D recommends 2000-3000IU of Vitamin D3 a day from dietary sources, sensible sun exposure and supplements.14
*Note: Please speak to your healthcare professional before taking any herbal medicines with prescription medications.
Erika is a qualified Naturopath and Holistic Nutritionist. She has over a decade of experience working within the natural therapies industry and continues to educate herself to grow her expertise. She is part of the technical services team at Global Therapeutics (Fusion Health), providing expert advice to consumers, practitioners and retailers alike. She is also a founder of an online natural fertility coaching business, educating and supporting couples on their fertility journey. She is especially passionate about empowering and supporting women to live a nourished, fulfilled life. She can be contacted at www.erikamorvay.com