Health

How To Fight Off The Cold & Flu with Foods

With winter, comes the dreaded cold and flu season. I’m a big advocate for preventing illness with nourishing diet and lifestyle support. I believe it is also just as important to give you the tools to overcome any nasty bugs and other health conditions that may get the better of you.

When life is busy your stress levels are increased and your body becomes vulnerable. This is a perfect time for the common cold to get the better of you. To help you nourish your body to a swifter recovery, here’s some of  my top diet and lifestyle tips, to overcome the cold and flu.

  • Increase Vitamin C rich foods.

The highest food sources of vitamin C are capsicums, green leafy’s such as kale and rocket, broccoli, strawberries, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, rock-melon and sprouts such as alfalfa, lentils, cabbage seed, mung beans, adzuki bean sprouts, chickpeas, black eyed peas, radish seeds, kale seeds, watercress seeds, broccoli seeds, mustard seeds, turnip seeds and radish seeds.  Starting the day with juice ½ lemon, in warm water is a vitamin c rich drink to build into your morning routine for extra immune support.

  • Consume easy-to-digest foods. 

When you’re body is trying to heal, it does not have a great deal of energy for digesting your food.  An easy way to meet your increased need for nutrient rich vegetables, that are easy to absorb, is to make juices and smoothies. Celery, green leafy’s (spinach, kale, swiss chard, cos lettuce), cucumber and smaller amounts of carrot and beetroot are nutritious veggies to use. I add a 1-2 cm chunk of ginger root for its warming actions, together with Vitamin C rich lemon.

Soups and slow cooked meals made from homemade bone broth are also very nourishing and will warm and support your body during the colder weather. Bone broth is high in minerals and gut healing nutrients, which are very easy to absorb and use, especially when you’re fighting the dreaded cold or flu.

  •  Use immune boosting herbs. 

I add garlic to just about everything- salads, soups, stir-fry, curry and sauces.  Garlic has strong antibacterial properties, so if I start to feel run down I will also add some into my morning juice or smoothie. Definitely a face cringer 😉 A more palatable way to add garlic into your day, and receive the healing benefits of antibacterial honey, cover 3 finely chopped garlic cloves with raw or Manuka honey. Take 1-3 tsp daily, until symptoms subside.

Oregano, thyme and rocket are other great additions to foods and drinks, to help supply the body with natural antimicrobial properties and helping to fight against the common cold and secondary infections such as a chest or sinus infection. For an extra boost, add oregano essential oil 1 drops, up to 3 times per day into lemon water. Beware, it will take your breath away!

  • Load up on Coconut Oil.

Enter my favourite superfood, coconut oil. Particularly for the immune system, coconut oil supplies the best source of a type of medium chain fatty acid (MCFA) called lauric acid. Lauric acid is converted to monolaurin in the body. This has powerful antiviral, antibacterial and antiparasitic actions. Another MCFA which coconut oil contains is caprylic acid, which has yeast-fighting properties. You can see me chatting all things coconut on Today Tonight here.

  • Increase Fermented Foods. 

Include fermented foods such as sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar (drink with warm water), yoghurt (coconut)* and kefir (coconut water)*. Around 80% of the immune system is found in the digestive system, so you can understand why it is so important to encourage growth beneficial bacteria in the gut, to promote a strong immune system.

*Mention code ‘glow’ to receive 10% off 

  • Up your fluids.

If I feel a sore throat starting, I will hop into multiple fresh Thyme teas, as this herb can help fight against infections that cause the common cold symptoms such as a sore throat and coughs. Thyme is also super easy to grow at home in pots!

Another traditional remedy as a decongestant includes adding 2 slices fresh ginger root, 1 tsp raw or Manuka honey, 1 peeled garlic clove, a pinch cayenne pepper, juice 1 lemon to a teapot of boiling water. Let it steep for at least 10 mins and drink at least 3 cups daily. If this recipe is too challenging, simply add juice 1/2 lemon, or 2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar into a glass of warm water 3 times a day.

  • Eliminate sugar, dairy and wheat.

Dairy and wheat can contribute to mucous production in the body, so if you are keen to throw away the tissue box sooner rather than later, leave these foods off your plate.

A weakened immune system is a common consequence many experience from hopping into sugary foods. Sugar competes with our beneficial nutrients and also throws out the crucial balance of good:bad bacteria in our gut. While you are sick, raw honey is a much safer alternative, which will help to fight your infection. More on my other recommended sweeteners in my Vibrant Woman Challenge.

  • Eat organic and home grown when possible.

The chemicals used in conventional farming are toxic to the body and will therefore put a burden on your immune system. See ‘Shoppers Guide To Pesticides Revealedblog post for the most important vegetables to eat organic.

  • Soak up the sun and breathe in the fresh air.

I will always take time out of my day, no matter how busy I am, to get some sun on my skin for adequate Vitamin D. Vitamin D is crucial for a well-functioning immune system, so be sure to get your daily dose. 10-20 mins midday sun on bare skin should be enough, but I do recommend to get levels checked 6-12 monthly to ensure adequate levels for immune support. The fresh air also does wonders for reducing stress. Stress is a known immune suppressant.

  • Get 8 hours of sleep per night.

Any less than this on a regular basis and I personally feel run down quickly. Less sleep leads to a weakened immune system and therefore increases the risk of the lurking germs to get the better of you. Allow 8 hours of quality rest and reduce your risk of coming down with the next cold virus you are exposed to.

Conclusion

There are many ways though your diet and lifestyle, which you can support your immune system. By supporting your body with a nourishing diet, with the additions of immune protective herbs and super foods, rest and sunshine,  you’ll be surprised how quickly you will recover.

Learn more about my recommended supplements for preventing and treating the cold and flu, here.

What are your favourite immune boosting remedies?

Love, health and happiness,

Kasey

ps.. I LOVE playing with essential oils! If you do too and want to join my doTERRA essential oils team, please email me at kasey@77.104.168.74. I can’t wait to connect with you x

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Get To Know Me

Kasey Willson ND

Hi there,
I’m Kasey, an Adelaide based Naturopath & Nutritionist, Author of Balanced, The Natural Way To healthy Hormones. You may have also seen me out and about speaking at health events.
My mission is to nourish you with food inspiration, empowering health information and lifestyle support for creating balanced hormones, thriving digestion and vibrant energy levels!

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