[dropcap]S[/dropcap]cientists are yet to solve the cure behind coughs, colds and sneezes.However there are bizarre ways of boosting your immune system to ensure you’re fighting fit throughout the festive season and the rest of winter.Of course, the usual advice such as eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep can help us battle bugs, but Kim Jones has some other suggestions.
Read on !
DON’T SHARE YOUR PENS
“Pens can collect and pass on bugs so keep a personal set of stationery,” suggests Deepa Songara, Boots flu pharmacist. The same goes for that teaspoon that’s passed around at work and the phone wipe the mouthpiece if someone with sniffles has used it.
COAT YOUR THROAT
Clinical studies have shown that spraying your throat with a mouth spray, can reduce the risk of getting a cold and shorten its duration. The spray creates a thin protective film with an enzyme to break down disease-related proteins.
VITAMIN D COMES BEFORE C
We’ve always been told to dose up on vitamin C if the chills come on, but D3 may be better for cold and flu protection says Dr David Mantle, medical adviser at Pharma Nord.”Studies in Finland and Japan showed people with adequate vitamin D were less likely to get respiratory illnesses,” he says. This could be because vitamin D supports our production of anti-viral and antibacterial proteins. Take an oil-based vitamin D supplement.
HAVE A PARTY
Keeping yourself to yourself might seem wise, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, US, found people who met regularly with family, friends, workmates and neighbours had better immunity against a cold. So send an invite (unless your friends have flu!).
SWAP ORANGE FOR A CUPPA
“While they provide a tiny amount of vitamin C and some hydration, orange and other fruit juices contain harmful sugars that stifle our immune defenses,” says Dr Mantle.”Stick to water and herbal teas to stay hydrated.” Chamomile tea is a good choice.Researchers from Imperial College London found people who drank it had high levels of hippurate (a compound associated with antibacterial activity) and this could explain why it seems to help fight infections.
GET A PET
A study from Wilkes University in the US found stroking a dog for 18 minutes led to participants producing a surge in antibodies that fight infection. Other research has found that babies brought up with pets have fewer colds and ear infections too.
Researchers pitted the herbal remedy echinacea against antiviral medication Tamiflu (oseltamivir) in a new clinical trial with surprising results. “We found Echinaforce Hot Drink to be as effective as oseltamivir in terms of shortening the duration of flu and reducing complications,” says Dr Peter Fisher of the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine. “Despite different modes of action, both block virus dissemination and development.”
MUSHROOMS ARE MAGIC
“Studies show that mushrooms, most notably the shiitake which has been used in eastern cultures for centuries as a healing remedy , have the ability to increase the immune system’s defenses,” says nutritionist Rob Hobson. “What’s more, these clever little things can make vitamin D (a nutrient associated with a strong immune system) from the sun.”
Simply place your mushrooms in direct sunlight (preferably upside down so the gills face upwards) for an hour or two before eating for a supercharged source of vit D.
HUG A TREE
“Research has found people who spend time in parks and forests exhibit an increased function of the immune system,” says Ella. “Plants emit phytoncide chemicals designed to protect them from insects and disease. When we breathe these in, our bodies increase the number and activity of white blood cells that fight viruses.”