Echinacea is a herbal remedy used for the symptomatic relief of colds, influenza-type infections and upper respiratory tract conditions. It helps the body fight the symptoms of these infections by supporting and strengthening your immune system.
Antioxidants (betacarotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E) can be found in fruit, vegetables, nuts, wholegrains and some meats, poultry and fish. They neutralise free radicals that damage cell membranes and other structures in the body. Free radicals are linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and liver and heart disease.
The superfood is jam-packed with immune-boosting nutrients and antioxidants, and reportedly helps prevent bladder infections, promotes dental health and lowers blood pressure.
Spirulina, another superfood, is a type of algae that has a high nutritional value and significant amounts of amino acids (the building blocks of protein). It helps to boost the immune system, speed up recovery after illness, protect against allergic reactions and maintain healthy skin, hair and nails.
Zinc is necessary for the proper function of more than 70 enzymes in our bodies. Besides keeping our immune systems in good working order, it also aids the release of insulin, enhances white blood cell functions, helps with acne and helps to rid the body of harmful metals.
Eat fresh, seasonal foods
Yoghurt. Probiotics, or the live active cultures found in yogurt, are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs, which in turn equals a healthy immune system.
Oats and barley. These grains contain beta-glucan, a type of fibre with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities more potent than Echinacea. It boosts immunity, speeds wound healing and may help antibiotics work better.
Garlic. The immune booster contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria.
Fish and seafood. Selenium helps white blood cells produce cytokines – proteins that help get rid of the flu virus. Fatty fish is rich in omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation, increasing airflow and protecting lungs from colds and respiratory infections.
Mushrooms. Mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, which help to fight infections.
Get a flu shot
Flu viruses change, and every year the flu vaccine is adapted to the virus in circulation that year. The vaccination can reduce the risk of flu by up to 50 to 60%, keeping you away from the doctor, hospital casualty visits, and even hospital admissions. The best time to get a flu shot in SA is before the end of April, but you can still get it at any time during the winter season. Get it at most Dis-Chem and Clicks stores nationwide, plus your local pharmacy, GP, clinic or hospital.
Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before taking any health products.