It happens every winter ...
The clocks go back, the days get darker, the weather gets worse and everyone gets a cold or flu. But it doesn't have to be like that. This simple plan will boost your body's natural defences and help it fight off the invading bugs, bring the sunshine back into your emotional life and help you face the winter with a smile.
Following this five-step plan will help you avoid infections and reach next spring feeling fitter and better than ever before.
1. Prevention - Avoiding the bugs
One of the best ways to avoid colds and flu is to wash your hands frequently – anyone with these infections leaves the viruses on doorknobs, telephones, keyboards, toilet handles, and anything else they touch. The bugs get on your hands and then into your mouth by touching or from food. Disinfect surfaces which are touched frequently by other people – 25 drops of tea tree oil in a 250ml spray bottle of water is ideal. Try to avoid rush hour travel and keep out of hot crowded stores.
Always cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.
2. Eat to beat the bugs
To ensure maximum resistance, supplement your diet with winter superfoods that provide an extra-rich supply of immune boosters.
Add beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, red, green and white cabbage (raw and cooked), carrots, red, green and yellow peppers, onions, leeks and garlic to your diet. Highly coloured veg contain protective carotenoids and all the onion family are powerful destroyers of bacteria and viruses.
A good mixed diet, with some cheese, live yogurt and other probiotic dairy products (for immune-boosting bacteria), meat, poultry, beans, whole grains, oily fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruit and veg, and you'll be on the right track to beat off winter bugs.
Sprouted seeds are the most live, pure and nutritious foods imaginable. Nothing could be fresher than harvesting your own, just before meal time. They are so easy to grow - your local health store will have the seeds and instructions - you don't even need a window box. They supply a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals and natural plant enzymes.
3. Eat soup
Now is the time for those wonderful home-made soups. Use root vegetables, onions, leeks, celery, green veg, yeast extract and plenty of herbs and garlic. Add extra beans, lentils or barley for winter-plus nutrition. It is absolutely true that real home-made chicken soup using chicken meat and bones helps protect against viruses, especially those causing flu and colds. Packets, cubes and cans do not work!
Anyone with poor immunity or chronic fatigue will benefit from the vitamin and mineral content of chicken soup. As a bonus, extra benefits come from using medicinal herbs and spices like garlic, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary and pepper. A bowl provides 50% of your daily protein needs, 25% of potassium, 20% of selenium and 30% of Vit B6.
4. Essential exercise
Exercise is an essential part of the system that boosts your immunity but it’s a problem as the days get shorter and a night in front of the TV is more appealing than the gym or a jog around the park. Although walking is the most convenient and effective form of exercise, most people walk even less at this time of the year. Physical activity stimulates circulation, boosts immunity and produces mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain, so make sure you get 20 minutes a day.
To strengthen immunity against infection, boost your intake of Vitamins A & C. Eat apples, apricots, citrus fruits, grapes, kiwi fruit, melon, pineapple and nectarines. These vitamins are also found in sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, yellow and red peppers, white cabbage, broccoli, collard greens and eggs.
Eat at least two different types of these foods daily.