Now that winter has arrived in the Southern hemisphere and temperatures taking a dive seemingly overnight, it is time to think of ways to bolster our immune system. Here are a few tips for how we can keep our immunity up in readiness for the cold and flu season, as well as ingredients to have on hand should you experience cold and flu symptoms.
According to the philosophy of traditional medicine doctrines, such as Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine, eating warm foods in the cooler months supports our immunity, whilst cold foods during this time can deplete us. Soups are a great way to incorporate multiple vegetables containing a wide spectrum of nutrients, providing a nourishing and satisfying staple.
Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) is a familiar and well known spice that has a warming quality ideal for winter months. The therapeutic properties of ginger have been known for centuries, and more recently studies have repeatedly demonstrated anti-inflammatory benefits, via modulation of a number of biochemical pathways. Ginger is a staple in our kitchen, both for flavour and health benefits.
Vitamin C containing foods
Vitamin C, together with flavonoids have long been known to support our immune system. Dr Linus Pauling did extensive research on the benefits of Vitamin C in the 1970’s, including its utilisation in the prevention and treatment of the common cold. Whilst these claims were met with skepticism by the medical community and it has become a controversial topic, however subsequent studies have supported these findings. Vitamin C may also reduce the physiological and psychological impact of stress. As stress depletes the immune system, as a result of cortisol secretion, it therefore follows that of reducing stress by ensuring sufficient Vitamin C will boost the immune system.
Sources of vitamin C include citrus, capsicum (bell pepper), green vegetables, sprouts, berries. Remember that a number of factors reduce Vitamin C content in food, such as storage and application of heat. Additional supplementation may also be required.
This is not the first time that this turmeric latte has appeared on our site. With impressive medicinal qualities, described briefly below, we could not leave this delicious, comforting drink off our top tips on winter essentials.
Warming turmeric (Curcuma longa) is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, beneficial in itself, however less known is the antimicrobial activity, which may be effective against viruses, bacteria and fungi, supported in a number of studies and documented in a review published in BioMed Research International. Another study even suggested that curcumin (active constituent in turmeric) may have specific activity against certain flu viruses.
Hot lemon and ginger drink with manuka honey
This traditional cold and flu remedy has stood the test of time for good reason. It is one of the first remedies we think of. It is not only soothing and comforting, but also therapeutic. In fact, a study showed that honey was more effective than an over the counter cough suppressant in relieving night coughing and improving sleep. Another study showed that honey, particularly manuka honey, has demonstrated anti flu virus activity, via the inhibition in replication of the virus. Lemon juice also has good quantities of Vitamin C as well as other phytonutrients such as flavonoids. Ginger, as discussed above, has warming and anti-inflammatory properties. Avoid using boiling water to make this tea, allow to cool a little. Not only is it difficult to drink without burning the mouth, the Vitamin C content is retained when water temperature drops a little.