Winter has well and truly arrived and with it brings a familiar roll-call of respiratory infections including coughs, colds, sore throats, sinusitis and the sneezes. While most of these are minor infections they can be bothersome and leave you feeling fatigues, run-down and sore. Providing your body with the necessary nutrients, hydration and rest can be key to staying healthy during the colder months, or at least limit your chances of infectious diseases.
A Raw, stinging throat is often the first sign of a viral upper respiratory infection, such as a cold, flu or laryngitis. Good hygiene practices and nutrition can help stop a sore throat from becoming something more serious in the way of a bacterial infection. Cold and flus are highly contagious and people become most susceptible when their immune system becomes weakened. The key is to keep your immune system ready for action by minimising alcohol use, reduce stress, and eat a balanced, nutritious diet. Good hygiene is important for yourself and others, wash your hands often, avoid touching your nose and eyes and cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
While most of this may seem like common-sense there are particular foods that may help protect you in the first place from becoming sick. Eating is important; it provides the body with essential nutrients that will helps your body’s defence system in battle against infections and help aid a speedy recovery. Some good eating tips include:
Vitamin C: it’s an immune booster! Include foods in your diet such as citrus foods, capsicums, broccoli, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, kiwi fruit and rock melon.
Drink lots of fluids: Aim for around 2-2.5 litres of fluid a day. This doesn’t have to just be water, but broth, hot tea and chicken soups too!
Stay away from alcohol and other drugs: It will compromise your immune system when you need it most as the body tries to eliminate the toxic substances.
Spice up meals: Chilli, garlic and turmeric can help unclog a stuffy nose, and are delicious in chicken soup too!
Eat foods rich in zinc: You’ll find this mineral in seafood, lean meats, low-fat dairy, green vegetables, wheat germ and whole-grains.
Double up on fresh fruits and Vegetables: Aim to have at least two serves at every meal and a serve with each snack to protect lung function and boost immunity. It’s impossible to eat too much and they provide anti-oxidants, vitamins E and C, and selenium which are a particularly useful in reducing inflammation of the airways and help boost lung functions.
Rest: It may be the most underrated component for recovery. Everyone knows rest helps but most people find it hard to actually relax. Sit, or lay down, perhaps read a book or watch your favourite tv show and sip hot tea and fresh water. Remember your body is able to speed recovery when the body is at rest.
Should I get the Flu Vaccine?
A new flu vaccine is produced every year to protect against prevailing strains of that year’s most common flu viruses. Doctors often recommend that you have an annual flu shot especially if you’re over the age of 65, or if you have a circulatory, respiratory, kidney, metabolic of immune disorder. While some people may get minor symptoms of the flu after the vaccine, just remember this is common and expected. Vaccines work by giving you a small dose of the virus, bacteria and antigens to stimulate an immune response in your immune system. This provides your adaptive immunity with the memory T cells it can use when it later encounters that same illness. This way it is able to quickly recognise the antigen as a threat and produce quick fighting killer cells, phagocytes and macrophages to take out the antigen and eliminate toxic substances from the body, usually before you are able to feel any symptoms.
Now for that sore throat…
There is nothing quite like a nice hot cuppa when your throat is burning. The best tea remedy for a sore throat is lemon and honey hot tea to sip on throughout the day. Honey provides beneficial bacteria and microbes. Try a teaspoon of honey before bed to calm coughing through the night. A couple of other home remedies can include ginger,onion and carrot juice for congestion and a hot tomato tonic with lemon, chilli, garlic and tomatoes to unblock the nose.
If you would like further information on keeping your immune system healthy or flu vaccinations please click the links below. And stay healthy this winter!!