How to beat colds and flu naturally

Do you suffer from colds and flu every year? There is much you can do to help your body recover naturally, and to avoid getting sick in the first place.

This is an extract from UK nutritionist Patrick Holford's latest book Good Medicine - Safe, natural ways to solve over 75 common health problems:

General information

When your immune system is fighting off an infection, it takes energy, so it’s important to rest and avoid stress.

Also, the immune system works more efficiently when you are hotter – this is why the body produces a fever to fight off an infection – so keep warm and take warm baths.

Eat well, but don’t eat too much; conserve your energy for fighting the infection.

Act fast. Viruses survive by breaking into your body’s cells and reprogramming those cells to make more viruses. By acting quickly in the first 24 hours, you can stop that happening. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

There’s some evidence that those who supplement probiotics on a regular basis recover from colds faster.

Best foods
  • Ginger (use in juice and teas and to soothe sore throats)
  • Carrots and carrot juice
  • Water (drink lots)
  • Berries
  • Montmorency cherry juice (Cherry Active)
  • Fish/beans (pulses) for protein
  • Raw nuts and seeds

Worst Foods
  • Dairy products (often mucus forming)
  • Sugar and refined foods
  • Too many carbs, such as lots of bread and cereals

Best supplements
  • 1 000mg vitamin C every hour (ideally one with zinc and berry extracts). Why? Keep drip-feeding enough vitamin C into your bloodstream to keep the level consistently high.

  • 10 drops of echinacea every 2 hours. Why? It contains special kinds of polysaccharides, such as inulin, which increase macrophage production, which are the immune cells that destroy bugs.

  • 1 teaspoon, or equivalent, of black elderberry extract every 2 hours. Why? Viruses get into body cells by puncturing their walls with tiny spikes made of a substance called haemagglutinin and an extract of elderberry disarms these spikes.

  • 1 x high-potency multivitamin–mineral with 15 mcg of vitamin D and 10mg zinc. Why? Zinc has been shown to make the body’s T cells much more effective, hence boosting immunity.

  • 1 x 1 000iu (25mcg) vitamin D a day during the winter (for immune protection rather than immediate effect). Why? If you rarely go outside, exposing your skin to direct sunlight, your body won’t make any vitamin D.
(This is an extract from Patrick Holford's book Good Medicine - Safe, natural ways to solve over 75 common health problems. Published by Piatkus UK and available from all good bookstores nationwide.)

(Photo of woman drinking ginger tea from Shutterstock)

Read more:

8 natural cold remedies
5 immune-boosting tips
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