Staying Strong & Healthy Through Winter
Strong & Healthy...
Well, here you have it in one neat little package of goodness for all of you. I have put together all of my favourite foods, supplements and herbal medicines to keep your body and immune system strong and healthy as we navigate our way through this unprecedented time.
Simple but effective...
Please be sure to follow the issued Department of Health and WHO guidelines on reducing infection spread within our community. Many of these are common sense recommendations aimed at flattening the curve and ensuring that our health and medical systems have the capacity to care for those who become unwell with the COVID-19 virus.
Wash you hands regularly, or whenever you come home or before eating, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
Cover your nose and mouth with your elbow if you cough or sneeze
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth especially when out in public
Avoid close contact with anyone who displays cold and flu-like symptoms
Stay home and only go out for essentials such as food or medical supplies and attention
Clean surfaces regularly with anti-bacterial or aromatherapy sprays
Always put the lid down when flushing the toilet
Keep to social distancing rules and work from home if you can
Avoid public transport and do not travel unless an emergency
Self-isolate if you are feeling unwell, have been in contact with a known case or have returned from overseas recently
If you have a fever, sore throat, cough or difficulty breathing, call your GP or medical helpline for assistance immediately
Follow medical advice and government regulations as necessary
Nurture & Nourish
The very best thing that you can do during this winter is to nurture, nourish and build your immune system throughout the season rather than boost it. Immune boosters are not supposed to be used all winter long, in fact they are meant only to be used for short periods of time to boost the immunity when it needs some extra reserve to fight off a pathogen of some kind. So here are my favourite foods, nutrients and herbal medicines that best nourish the immune system and to keep you in keep optimal health through winter.
Eat a healthy wholefood diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables
Include chicken, bone or vegetable broth, slow cooked meats and soups
Add garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric, chilli and fresh herbs to your cooking
Eat mushrooms of all kinds, especially shiitake mushrooms
Eat citrus fruit such as oranges, mandarins, lemons, limes and grapefruit
Take probiotic foods such as yoghurt, kefir, kombucha and miso
Drink hot drinks especially your favourite herbal teas
Keep sugar, alcohol, refined and processed foods to a minimum
Vitamin C – to support the immune system by stimulating the activity of antibodies and improving the ability of macrophages to do their work of engulfing and destroying viruses. High doses of Vitamin C have long been used to prevent, treat and shorten duration of virus related illnesses. Adults can take 1500mg twice daily to keep your immune system strong and healthy during winter and increase to 4000- 5000mg per day in divided doses if unwell.
Zinc – for general immune support, to shorten the length of colds and to resolve nasal congestion, sore throats and coughs faster. Adults can take 30mg daily with food for prevention and increase to 50mg daily with food if unwell.
Vitamin D – to support and modulate the immune system as well as preventing against acute respiratory infections and seasonal influenza. Adults can begin with 4000 – 5000iu per day for the 7 – 10 days and then reduce to 2000iu per day throughout winter.
Garlic - has been used since ancient Greece and has numerous healing properties, is natural antibiotic and builds your immunity so add it to your casseroles, soups and meals while you are sick, or even when you feel a cold coming on. Adults can take 1 capsule 2 - 3 times daily when sick or take 1 - 2 capsules daily as prevention.
To nurture & nourish....
Medicinal mushrooms especially shiitake, reishi and cordyceps – all support, strengthen and nurture the immune system and possess potent anti-viral, antimicrobial and immunomodulatory properties. Shiitake mushrooms can be found in most Asian grocery stores and can be included into soups, bone broths and miso with ease. Most health food stores also carry mushroom powders that can be added to morning smoothies or soups.
Astragalus – is a sweet and nourishing immune building herbal medicine and has long been used for infection prevention especially where there is weakness, to enhance the immune system, to improve stamina and endurance, for colds and influenza, for debility, fatigue and convalescence. The dried roots can be found in Asian grocery stores and I tend to add them to bone broths, soups and slow cooked meals during the winter months.
Elder Flowers – both the flower and berries can be used and each have slightly different applications. It is immune enhancing and anti-viral so is particularly suited for fever, aches, pains, colds, coughs, influenza and any other acute viral infections. The extract is quite pleasant tasting and can safely be used throughout winter as prevention for children. It can also be used for acute illness with fever and chills as part of the traditional yarrow, elder and peppermint tea blend.
To boost immunity & fight infection...
Echinacea – is a beautiful immune booster and a cornerstone in my practice during the winter months. It boosts all aspects of the immune system, supports the lymphatic system and boosts the activity and function of the white blood cells. It is useful for all acute viral infections, colds, influenza, ear infections, conjunctivitis, bronchitis and pneumonia along with other supportive lung and immune herbs.
Andrographis – is one of our most potent immune boosting herbal medicines and is particularly suited to acute bacterial and viral infections. I often prescribe it alongside Echinacea to boost immunity, improve recovery time and reduce the possibility of the cold progressing into something more. I like to use an Echinacea liquid tincture or Mediherb Echinacea Premium along with Mediherb Andrographis Complex or BioCeuticals Armaforce. Adults take 2 x Echinacea Premium and 3 - 4 Andrographis Complex or 4 - 5 BioCeuticals ArmaForce daily while sick. If those around you are sick take 1 x Echinacea Premium and 1 x Andrographis Complex or 2 x BioCeuticals ArmaForce daily.
Yarrow, Elder & Peppermint tea – this traditional diaphoretic formulation activates the immune system against acute and chronic infection, fever, colds or coughs by inducing a gentle therapeutic fever. The tea is made up of equal parts of dried herb, with honey or ginger if preferred, and must be made fresh each time so that it can be taken warm to hot to support the process. It can be given up to 4 times a day during illness.
And remember, herbal medicine formulas are a great way to get on top of a cold or cough quickly and will allow you to overcome symptoms, boost your body’s immunity and often avoid taking antibiotics. The best thing it is that a formula can be made specifically for your symptoms, so please talk to me about it as I'm always very happy to help and support you in this way.
Self-care is essential right now. I'm mediating and journalling every morning now - I was before this all happened but now it is absolutely non-negotiable so that I can function and be the very best that I can be. I have to say that if I miss a day, it is really noticeable and quite uncomfortable. Please make sure that you are sleeping well - at least 8 hours per night is what we all need. Eat nourishing, nurturing foods that are going to keep your body and immune system healthy and strong. Do some meditation or mindfulness practice each day so that you can keep your stress levels as low as possible. Consider limiting your time on social media and instead call a friend and see how they are doing or spend some quiet time with your child, partner or pet. And when possible, get out r a walk or a run and breathe in the fresh air, feel the sunshine... or rain on your face and connect back in to the natural world. It really feels to me that we are being called to slow down and come back to ourselves right now..
I am here to be of service, so if you have any questions or concerns, or just need another bottle of medicine to get you through, or want to sort out a time for a quick consultation for a sore throat, cough or cold, do get in touch.
Please look out for each other, check in on your neighbours or post your number into their letterbox with an offer of help and support, leave food and supplies for others when you are doing your shopping and most of all be kind. We are all in this together and remember the words of Wirradjurri Elder, Minmia who always says "Take only what you need and not what you greed".
Be well and stay strong.