At this time of year, the flu runs rampant. Follow these easy and effective ways to help fight off the cold and flu.
Stephen Eddey, Principal of Health Schools Australia, Naturopath and Nutritionist, shares 7 surprising ways to boost your immunity.
1. Fresh-Picked Olive Leaf Extract
Fresh-Picked Olive Leaf Extract could be your secret weapon when it comes to help supporting or boosting your immune system, building a strong front-line winter defense. It has five times (400%) more antioxidant power than the equivalent amount of Vitamin C.
Recent research also highlights the olive leaf as the most powerful, free-radical-scavenging antioxidant of 55 medicinal herbs. Fresh-Picked Olive Leaf Extract has traditionally been used in western medicine to support the immune system, maintain general wellbeing and to relieve symptoms of coughs, colds and flu.
The best form of olive leaf you can take is from a plant that has been picked first thing in the morning and extracted on the same day. By doing this, you preserve the potent phytochemicals found in the leaves, which are responsible for its antioxidant and immune boosting properties.
Matcha is one of the latest health trends to hit Australian shores. If you haven’t seen it flood your social media feed yet, you’re bound to notice it at your local farmers market on the weekend, or on the beverage board at your local café.
Touted a superior antioxidant, detoxifier and energy booster, Matcha comes in the form of a high quality green powder and is naturally caffeinated, meaning it can act as a powerful immune boosting ingredient, and may also help you reduce or kick your coffee habit.
Some research shows that Matcha has 137 times the antioxidants of regular green tea. It is also believed to have enhanced health benefits, such as promoting healthy blood flow around the body.
Packed with antioxidants like vitamin C, lemons have many immune boosting benefits to support overall wellbeing and recovery from the common cold.
They can support a healthy metabolism, aid digestion, support healthy skin and enhance your body’s ability to absorb iron.
Include the juice of a lemon over your salads and protein sources like grilled chicken and fish, or squeeze half a lemon into your drink bottle in the morning or enjoy warm lemon water at night.
Add a slice of ginger to these little elixirs and you have yourself an extra healthy drink, with a double dose of immune boosting ingredients. Did you also know that a compound called D-limonene, which is found in the peel of the lemon, has been shown to support fat metabolism in the liver?
4. Super Grains
Although many of us have heard of quinoa by now, there is a growing trend of ‘super grains’ which has evolved to include the likes of the lesser known teff and amaranth grains, which are not only a great source of fibre, but also help to reduce inflammation and support a healthy immune system.
Super grains, otherwise known simply as whole grains, are less refined than other fibre sources like white breads and white rice. However, they still have their bran and germ intact, meaning they are much better sources of fibre and other important nutrients and can help support a healthy colon and digestive system which is essential for long-term health.
Some research shows that amaranth is high in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. The teff grain is known as a common staple food source in Africa and has a high nutrient and protein content as well as being full of other minerals and vitamins. Teff can easily be used in cooking, similar to millet and quinoa, and its small size means it will cook quickly.
Ubiquinol is a potent antioxidant which is found naturally in every living cell of the human body. Its function is to extract energy from food and assist in powering the body’s cells as well as our overall energy levels.
It plays a vital role in supporting the health of our major organs, including keeping our hearts ticking and our livers detoxifying, as well as supporting our overall immune health and assisting healthy ageing by helping to flush the body of nasty free radicals.
Science suggests that our Ubiquinol levels can decrease over time. It also shows that it has a close relationship with ageing and oxidative stress. Interestingly, and unlike some other well-known antioxidants, you would need to consume copious amounts of certain foods in order to achieve the minimum dosage of Ubiquinol (100-150mg per day). For example, 3.4kg of meat, 5.7kg of chicken, 1.6kg of peanuts, 50 cups of spinach or 120 cans of sardines. Luckily for us however, Japanese scientists have spent the last 10 years developing a natural form of Ubiquinol, now available in Australia.
6. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are important to include in your diet. They are full of probiotic health benefits which can help to support and strengthen your overall digestive system, as well as help to make sure your gut health and bacterial balance is in check. If you’ve got an imbalance of bacteria in your gut, your body may not be able to release toxins as effectively from the body, or absorb proper nutrients, minerals and vitamins which are needed to strengthen your immunity.
Fermentation, which comes from the Latin word fervere meaning "to boil”, is a metabolic process whereby a starch or sugar is converted into an alcohol or acid, like the fermentation of milk to yoghurt, grains to beer and grapes to wine.
Fermented cabbage is growing in popularity, as is fermented drinks like Kombucha, which the ancient Chinese often refer to as an “Immortal Health Elixir”.
The process of fermentation leaves a food’s sugars and starch to create lactic acid, which in turn, helps break it down making it easier to digest and last longer. The fermentation process is also believed to help boost the vitamins found in certain foods, which is also beneficial in supporting your immunity.
7. The Sun
Vitamin D, sometimes referred to as ‘The sunshine vitamin’, has an increasingly expanding body of research behind it, which highlights its benefits in helping to regulate and support healthy immune function. Although it is not only used as an immune boosting vitamin. Vitamin D can increase calcium absorption in the body and strengthen bones and teeth, while also helping to boost your mood.
Getting the right amount of sunshine is the healthiest and most efficient way to get a dose of Vitamin D, so use the excuse of improving your immunity to take some time out, put on your favourite pair of sunglasses and a little SPF, and enjoy the sunshine. Just remember not stay out in the sun too long and avoid getting sunburnt.
Please Note: Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare practitioner. Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet.