Winter brings with it crisp days and cosy nights by the fire. Unfortunately, nasty colds and flu come too. While there‘s no magical cure for these afflictions, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of beating the bugs at their own game.
Women who work out regularly for 12 months or more may lower their risk of catching colds by as much as 50 per cent, say researchers at in Seattle, US. The researchers came to this conclusion after studying a group of post-menopausal women who took part in moderate-intensity exercise such as power walking or stationary cycling for 45 minutes, five days a week. If you want to stay well, but don’t have a spare 45 minutes to work out, break it into 10-minute intervals throughout the day – it’s every bit as effective.
Some people believe illnesses such as colds and flu are the body’s way of signalling it needs a break. So, if you find you’re susceptible to illness, maybe you need to rest a while – and try not to feel guilty about it. “We can sometimes feel guilty about spending time resting; however, your body will benefit if you resist the urge to soldier on,” says Toni Eatts, co-author of (Lansdowne Publishing, 1998). To fight colds and flu, Toni suggests this affirmation: “I allow myself to rest knowing that it is okay for me to recharge my batteries.”
Traditional Chinese medicine
Chinese herbs are believed to build up the immune system by balancing the body’s Qi, which means life force. The Chinese believe we all have it, and when this life force gets out of balance, an illness such as a cold or flu may occur. When that happens you can try the Chinese herb gan mao ling. For a general boost to the immune system, try . Both are available from Chinese herbalists and Chinese medicine practitioners.
If you would like to learn more about the healing power of food or find an accredited practising dietitian in your area, visit the web site of .
It’s boring we know, but the truth is you’ll be better able to fight off winter nasties if your diet is healthy and nutritious. “A nutritious diet strengthens your immune system and consequently helps to protect you from colds and flu,” says dietitian Melanie McGrice, of Melbourne’s Health Kick Nutrition and Dietetics. “Zinc, vitamin C and E are particularly important for strengthening one’s immune system. Red meat, chicken, oysters and prawns are rich in zinc. Oranges, strawberries, capsicum and broccoli are high in vitamin C, and nuts, olive oil and oats are good sources of vitamin E.”
Can making simple changes to your diet really make a difference in terms of day-to-day health? Most definitely, says Dr Mark Cohen, professor of complementary medicine at RMIT University in Victoria. “The healing power of foods is certainly underestimated,” says Dr Cohen, who is also a registered GP. “We’re yet to understand the full potential of many phytonutrients and how they combine to produce dramatic healing properties. We are led to believe effective healing requires pills and potions, but the truth is, some of the most potent healing agents are in the pantry rather than the medicine cupboard.”