Blog 2013-11-26 Echinacea_purpurea (not my photo)

Continuing on from my last post  …..

A healthy immune system can tell a pesky cold doing the rounds where to go – politely of course. Let’s have a look at how we can grow a healthy strong immune system ……..

Avoid stress – easier said than done, but essential if you want the best health and immunity. Stress switches off immunity leaving you wide open. Look into ways to de-stress. Meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi are all very effective, but maybe just sitting quietly with a book or taking your dog for a walk can do the trick. Do what feels right for you. There is no point doing yoga if it stresses you!!

Sleep gives your cells a chance to recharge and cleanse. Think of them doing essential maintenance work whilst you visit the land of Nod. If you don’t get enough sleep, then vital repair and cleaning work is skipped, which has a big impact on your health and vitality. Not getting enough sleep can also cause your body more stress!!

Exercise and Fresh Air – a daily brisk walk helps keep things moving; an aerobic class for your cells. It stimulates circulation and lymph which in turn help to support tip-top immune function.

Water. Your cells want fresh water to cleanse. If they don’t cleanse, toxins can build up, then before you know it, your body is trying its best to clear up the unholy mess ……… voila – a pesky cold!

Tip-Top digestion – a digestive system in good working order literally feeds all the cells of your body including your immune cells. So think water, plenty of fruit and vegetables. Try to avoid sugar and other refined foods.

Vitamin C: old hat but a very effective old hat. It boosts immunity. Try upping your daily Vitamin C intake during the winter months, and not just when you feel the first sniffle coming on. Stress (external or internal) depletes it. That’s bad news for most of us! Fruit and veg should contain lots but you need to be eating fresh, local and raw (and I don’t advise too much raw during winter) to maximise your daily intake. If, however, you eat non-organic, or produce with more air miles than you, or if you like to boil your veg to within an inch or centimetre of its life, then you’ll be getting way too little. Whatever your diet looks like, unless you are a rare species of lesser spotted stress-free human, I suggest a supplement as an insurance policy.

Echinacea: great for boosting immunity. It’s best to take for short spells at a time – say 6 weeks followed by a 4 week break.

Pre/probiotics. These are your digestive system’s helpmates. In exchange for food and shelter they help to keep your digestion in good working order. You can get a certain amount of healthy bacteria from fermented food, but I recommend a regular boost of pre/probiotics in supplement form. If you want advice on which to buy, drop me a line.

And if you do get a cold …. What then?

It’s not a case of beating yourself up – but a chance to go gentle on yourself. Start by clearing your diary for at least a day. Cut the martyr act, soldiering into work, Lemsip and Kleenex in hand. Firstly, you won’t be popular, but more importantly, precious energy needed to deal with the cold is being used on STRESS. Late trains, tricky bosses, customers, you name it. Result: the cold lingers. How many people have you heard tell of a cough that won’t shift for weeks? Rest and sleep are great healers. A couple of early nights and perhaps a lazy day in bed can work wonders.

Keep up your fluids (by that I mean water; not tea and coffee!). Hot water with fresh lemon and ginger is an old favourite and, if your throat has joined in, a little honey is nice and soothing.

Go easy on eating. You want your body to use its energy on working through that cold rather than digesting a hearty three course meal. It’s a myth to “feed a cold”. The old saying is actually “if you feed a cold, you have to starve a fever”. A little warm home-made soup is nourishing without putting too much strain on digestion.

Resist the urge to suppress with painkillers and other over-the-counter cold “cures”. A cold is a sign that your body is trying to cleanse, and by suppressing you are holding stuff in that needs to come out – a bit like brushing stuff under the carpet.

Upping your daily Vitamin C (to perhaps a few grams a day) and Echinacea can also help give your immune system a helping hand.