It’s that special time of the year again. You know it’s here when everyone around you starts dropping like flies and then you get that familiar tickle in the back of your throat, followed by your nose turning into a leaky tap, and the overall sluggish, overwhelmed and run down feeling. Although it’s not too late to get vaccinated (autumn is generally the best time to do it as it gives your immunity enough time to strengthen before the winter flu season really sets in), there are ways of staving off cold and flu bugs before they force you to fall down with the masses and boost day time television ratings.
Your first line of defense should be staying away from sick people. I tell my clients this all the time. I don’t need martyrs, if you’re sick, leave your nastiness at home. Although this goes without saying, but remember to keep it clean. Wash your hands regularly, and keep your digits away from eyes, nose and mouth to prevent the spread of germs.
Knowing what to eat will also help you prevent the likelihood of getting sick. If you’re reading this from your laptop/iPhone/iPad in bed thinking it’s too late, never fear, these super food weapons will turbo charge your recovery.
Stink out your sickness with a daily dose of (at least) two cloves of garlic. Loaded with phytochemical allicin, an antimicrobial compound, garlic is a force to be reckoned with. A British study found that people taking allicin supplements had 46 percent fewer colds and recovered faster. Their breath probably meant that they had less contact with people in general, reducing the likelihood of contamination.
Ginger is pretty much the bomb dot com. It contains gingerol, a natural plant compound that can help fight off infection. Make ginger tea by adding a 2cm chunk of the spicy root into a cup of boiling water or dress your salad with a fresh ginger vinaigrette by mixing 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1 teaspoon grated ginger and 1 teaspoon honey if required for sweetness. I also like to make a ginger, beetroot and carrot salad that happens to go very well with salmon.
To make you will need:
Step 1: Grate desired amounts of each
Step 2: Combine ingredients in a bowl.
Step 3: Serve with a piece of grilled salmon.
Step 4: Enjoy.
Yoghurt is loaded with probiotics — good bacteria that defends our digestive tract and body against invading germs. Buy plain yoghurt or try making your own, my recipe can be found here.
Oysters are rich in zinc, which is a mineral that keeps our immune system strong. Zinc rallies your white blood cells to attack bacteria and viruses like a flu or cold. Just three medium oyster provides all of the zinc you need for a day. Consumption of oysters (well their zinc content) has also been linked to a higher libido, and having sex once or twice a week has been linked with higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A or IgA, which can protect you from getting colds and other infections. Although eating oysters daily is not everyone’s cup of tea, you can also get zinc from pumpkin seeds and baked beans, the latter however will most likely have a counter effect in the bedroom department.
Throw some sweet potatoes in the oven and eat up. These bad boys are loaded with beta-carotene, which is the vitamin that gives sweet potatoes their orange pigment. Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body, which research suggests may be particularly helpful in the treatment of respiratory infections. Eating sweet potatoes can help your body’s defenses by helping to neutralize harmful toxins.
In folk wisdom, rich chicken broth – the famous Jewish penicillin – is a valued remedy for the flu. The secret is in the chicken fat which has anti-microbial properties. Medical research has also shown that chicken soup suppresses inflammation and thins out mucous secretions alleviating congestion in the nose, chest and throat. For the ideal soup you will need chicken, onion, sweet potato, turnips, parsnips, carrots, celery and parsley.
Soothe a dry sore throat with a spoonful of honey. The golden nectar coats the throat and soothes irritation. Opt for a raw unprocessed honey.
Rich in antioxidants, green tea is an excellent immune system booster that helps you produce more cells that fight the bacteria and viruses that cause sickness. Green tea contains an immune-boosting chemical called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). To get the most health benefits from this hot drink, steep tea in boiling water for about 4 minutes. Spice things up by adding a piece of ginger, fresh mint leaves, orange peel or even a cinnamon stick.
Strawberries, oranges, tomatoes, capsicums
Vitamin C is an essential weapon in your flu-fighting food arsenal. It’s much better to receive vitamin C via whole foods rather than as a supplement so fill your diet with vitamin C rich foods such as strawberries, oranges, capsicum, tomatoes and broccoli.
Almonds are an excellent source of the disease-fighting antioxidant vitamin E. Aim to have 24 almonds daily by throwing them in your cereal, salads or even stirfrys.