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As we head towards winter time, the most common ailment of the season is the common cold, numerous days are lost to sniffly noses, coughs and sore throats. But you can give yourself a fighting chance by protecting your immune system and giving it a boost.
Did you know that your immune system is one of the most important systems of the body, and your most important defender against foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria?
It is only when we begin to feel run down or can’t shake a cold that we start to consider protecting and boosting our immune system.
Fatigue, slow healing wounds and repeated or chronic infections are some of the signs that your immune system may not be functioning at its optimum. Herbal and nutrient supplements can help you recover faster, and improve your resistance to infections.
Here are some key supplements to keep in your cupboard during winter:
Many of us have heard the name echinacea but may not be sure why it’s so popular; it has antimicrobial and antiviral activity and has been traditionally used to support immune function and provide relief of upper respiratory catarrh, sore throat and feverish conditions.
Olive leaf has shown to possess antibacterial activity and is used in traditional western herbal medicine for respiratory ailments such as cough and sore throat.
A classic remedy, vitamin C is a great addition to any immune-boosting regimen. Great for the lead up to the winter months, vitamin C taken prophylactically can help to build up immunity and ward off colds.
Numerous clinical studies support the use of vitamin C in reducing the severity and duration of colds.(1) Vitamin C, otherwise known as ascorbic acid, acts to dampen the histamine response which includes symptoms of runny nose and watery eyes.
Vitamin C’s role in immunity can be enhanced when combined with other potent nutrients such as vitamin E, zinc, betacarotene and rutin. Vitamin E and rutin, like vitamin C, are potent antioxidants. Antioxidants are important for immune health as they are able to protect immune cells from free radicals in the body.
Betacarotene is a precursor for vitamin A, which plays an essential role in regulating the immune system and helps the body fight off infections. It also boosts the activity of white blood cells, which defend the body from foreign substances.14
Known as the sunshine vitamin, the well-researched vitamin D enhances the immune response to bacteria and viruses. Being deficient in vitamin D has been linked to recurrent infections and many New Zealanders are actually deficient in Vitamin D.
Zinc is another nutrient that many New Zealanders are deficient in according to the National Nutrition Survey. It is well known immune-support nutrient required for production of white blood cells that fight infections; its deficiency is linked to decreased immune function.
Mushroom extracts including reishi and shiitake have traditionally been used to stimulate and support the immune system.
Tips for a healthy immune system
• Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated fat and simple carbohydrates.
• Exercise regularly.
• Get outdoors for regular sun exposure.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Drink alcohol in moderation only.
• Don’t smoke.
• Get adequate sleep.
• Avoid/reduce stress.
To find out more contact your local practitioner, pharmacist or contact 0800 451 285.
Source: BioCeuticals Australia
1. Douglas RM, Hemilä H, Chalker E, et al. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2007;(3):CD000980.