If you have cancelled plans recently to stay at home and look after sick children, you’re not alone. A survey by Wagner of more than 1200 Australians aged 18-64 showed that 60% of Aussie mums were very likely to cancel any plans they had to stay home and mind their sick children – 13% higher than dads
The research also showed that four in five women (78%) believed they were at major risk of catching a cold or flu from a sick person at home, compared to just 65% of men, and a further 75% of women said that being overworked, rundown or stressed was a major risk factor, significantly higher than just 59% of men.
Sydney naturopath and TV presenter Emma Sutherland says the findings highlight the need for women to have a strong, healthy body before the winter months hit. She says high levels of stress lead to immune suppression, increasing the body’s likelihood of catching a cold or flu.
Emma recommends these preventative techniques to help boost the body’s immunity and improve its ability to ward off winter colds and flu.
Top tips for preventing colds and flus
1. A diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains ensures you get the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are essential for a healthy immune system. Eat plenty of onion and garlic for their antimicrobial properties to keep germs at bay, and consider taking natural supplements like Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract to help prevent winter colds and flu. Ginger and chilli are warming foods and adding them to your dishes can also be a great immunity booster in the cooler months.
2. Ensure that you go into the winter months with adequate levels of Vitamin D. Research has shown that people with low Vitamin D get more frequent and more severe colds than people with high levels. As it is a fat soluble vitamin, be careful of eating “low fat” foods as you will be missing out on Vitamin D. Natural sources are full fat dairy, sardines, egg yolks and cod liver oil.
3. Eat adequate amounts of protein as it forms the building blocks for your infection fighting antibodies. This can be obtained from animal sources such as lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy foods or from plant sources such as legumes, tofu and tempeh.
4. Wash your hands often as cold viruses can survive for several hours on hands, tissues, or hard surfaces. A healthy person can contract a virus by touching a contaminated surface, then touching his or her own mouth or nose. Studies demonstrate that touching your nose or eyes with the fingertip area leads to an overloaded immune system and most of the infections of the upper respiratory tract. Keyboards and telephones, particularly when they are shared, are among the most germ-laden places in a home or office and the average desk harbors 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat!
5. Studies suggest that moderate exercise is beneficial to strengthen the immune system. When you exercise you increase blood circulation through your body, therefore circulating antibodies and white blood cells, which means your immune system has a better chance of finding an illness before it has a chance to spread. A study was done with 50 women divided into exercise and non exercise groups. The exercise group walked briskly 45 minutes for five days a week. The women who walked experienced half as many colds as the non exercise group. Walkers had an increase in natural killer cells from the beginning. Natural killer cells are part of the defence against germs and viruses.
And if it’s too late and you’re already battling a cold or flu….
Top tips for dealing with colds and flus
1. My first tip is to act quickly! Start taking natural antimicrobial herbs such as an aged garlic extract like Kyolic, Echinacea, Andrographis and Elder at the first signs of illness. It is far more effective to do this rather than waiting as you can prevent the virus from taking hold.
2. Avoid all forms of sugar including glucose, fructose, sucrose or processed juice as they significantly reduce the ability of white blood cells to destroy viruses. This is due to sugar blocking white blood cells from using Vitamin C, and this vitamin is vital in the fight against infection.
3. Start supplementing with Vitamin C as well as zinc. As mentioned, white blood cells require Vitamin C in their fight against infection but they also need the mineral zinc. Zinc can be found in oysters, sunflower seeds, lamb and beef while foods high in Vitamin C include blackcurrants, red chilli, red capsicum, broccoli, kale and lemon.
4. Temporarily reduce dairy products as these tend to increase mucous production and lead to congestion. This is a big tip for children as they tend to consume a lot of cheese, yoghurt and milk.
5. Taking natural supplements like Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract, as well as “friendly bacteria” such as Probiotica P3 to help support immune function and improve resistance to infection. Traces of probiotics are found in some foods (yoghurt, milk, miso and some juices and soy beverages) but are best administered via dietary supplements in capsule, tablet or powder form to ensure they survive the stomach acid and arrive where they are in needed in the intestine in sufficient numbers to make a difference.
Emma also recommends this real boost juice recipe to fight the winter cold and flu blues, which she has up to four times a week during the chilly months….
The real boost juice
1 small beetroot
1 inch of fresh ginger
1 clove of garlic
1 whole lemon
Get yourself a good juicer and juice in the following order: First carrot, garlic, ginger, beetroot, three remaining carrots then lemon. It really is best if you use organic ingredients as they are far more nutritionally dense. Add to a big glass with a few ice cubes and you will feel amazing and germ free!
Emma Sutherland – N.D.BHlth Sc (CompMed) MATMS, MNHAA – is a successful naturopath and TV presenter and her mission in life is to inspire women to get their mojo back. She is a fully qualified Naturopath, having completed four years of training in Herbal Medicine, Nutrition and Homoeopathy as well as a Bachelor of Health Science. She has completed post graduate training in women’s health and is also a certified HypnoBirthing instructor.