Prevention is better than cure. To support a healthy immune system, eat a well-balanced whole-food diet. Nutrients are randomly distributed among foods and the diet most likely to contain sufficient nutrients is the one which contains the widest range of different foods. Raw vegetables provide the broadest range of nutrients of any food class. Eaten raw, vegetables do not lose any of their nutrients or enzymes, which are may otherwise be destroyed by cooking.
What to avoid when a cold strikes:
- Avoid red meat and dairy produce, as they are mucous forming.
- Avoid contact with others, hand contact can spread viruses.
- Avoid touching your face and wash your hands regularly as you may re-infect yourself.
- Avoid re-using tissues, use once and discard.
- Avoid sugar as it impairs immune function. Glucose (sugar) and vitamin C compete for transport sites into white blood cells. Decreased vitamin C due to a high consumption of sugar may result in a significant reduction in white blood cell function.
- Avoid cigarette smoke; if you do smoke, reduce to 5 per day or less you will notice a considerable benefit within 1-2 days during an active infection.
What to take when a cold strikes:
- Ensure good quality sleep. The immune system functions best under the control of the parasympathetic nervous system, which assumes control during periods of rest.
- Consume lots of fluids. A moist respiratory tract that repels viral infections. Choose wisely, for instance, drinking lots of orange juice during a cold does more harm than good due to a higher level of sugar than vitamin C. Choose home-made chicken or turkey broth, bottled or filtered water, vegetable juices laced with herbs (ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, parsley, sage and thyme), and herbal teas such as green tea, pau d’arco, slippery elm, and yarrow.
- Vitamin C rich foods help relieve symptoms, reduce the length of a cold, and increase efficiency of the immune system. Foods rich in vitamin C are: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, asparagus, red & green peppers, tomato purée, kiwi fruit, most berries and citrus fruits. Eat fruits fresh and whole (not their juices).
- Ensure you get enough protein, include foods such as chicken, fish, eggs or vegetarian alternatives.
- Brisk walking for 20 minutes daily helps to loosen built-up mucous.
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By Lisa Borg, Nutritional Therapist at Pulse Light Clinic, to find out more about Lisa, please click here – Lisa Borg’s Biography