Winter is the best time to take action and boost the immune system to help fight off cold and 'flu viruses.
Winter is the best time to take action and boost the immune system to help fight off cold and 'flu viruses. PHOTODISC

Prepare yourself for winter battle

A STRONG immune system is the secret to fighting off nasty bugs and avoiding a case of the dreaded winter cold or flu.

Naturopath and Blackmore's director of education Pam Stone reminded residents now was the best time to take action and boost the immune system to help our bodies fight off cold and 'flu viruses.

She said we were likely to come in contact with cold and flu causing viruses in our everyday lives, but whether they made us ill or not depended on the health of our immune system.

"We don't catch a cold we let a cold catch us," Ms Stone explained.

"Your immune system provides the best form of defence for fighting a cold, but not enough people take the time to rest and help their body defend itself.

"I like to adapt the 'fight or flight' analogy to colds. You make the choice to either take notice of early symptoms and help your body fight the cold, for example by resting, taking supplements to support your immune system and eating a good diet.

"Or you can try to 'run away' from your cold by ignoring the symptoms. If you do try to soldier on, you could possibly end up feeling worse for longer."

She said both cold and flu were caused by viral infections but were significantly different conditions.

Ms Stone said symptoms of colds included a sore throat, sneezing, coughing and sinus congestion. She said 'flu symptoms were similar to those of a cold but also included systemic body aches, fever and lasted longer.

To boost and maintain a healthy immune system in order to stave off viruses, she advised individuals to keep well-hydrated, exercise regularly, get sufficient sleep and practise good hygiene (wash hands often and avoid regularly touching your face with your hands).

Those who found themselves suffering from a cold or 'flu were encouraged to consider trying natural remedies. Ms Stone's top natural cold and 'flu fighters included:

Vitamin C and echinacea: Both could help reduce the duration and severity of cold and flu symptoms.

Combination of horseradish, garlic and vitamin C: Used to reduce congestion.

Ivy leaf: A natural cough remedy found in certain Blackmore's products.

Holy basil: Can help clear congestion and mucus from the chest.

Superfoods: Eating plenty of fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables, packed with antioxidants and nutrients, was the best way to support the immune system.

Generally the richer and brighter the colour of the fruit or vegetable the more immune-boosting nutrients it contained.


Beating colds and the flu

F - Fight a cold. Don't "take flight" and ignore your early warning signs and symptoms.

I - Immunity is your body's best defence. Assist your immunity with nutrients like vitamin C and echinacea.

G - Go for garlic. Garlic is a great weapon against colds so make up a tea of fresh garlic, honey and lemon, then go to bed.

H - Help healing. Give your body the best chance to recover by resting. Your colleagues will thank you for keeping your germs at home.

T - Top up with nutritional supplements that may support your immune system.


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