HOW TO BEAT WINTER COLDS AND FLU

Happy New Year! The shortest day has been and gone and the nights are beginning to draw out again; before you know it spring will be here!

You may well have embarked on a 2019 health drive – no alcohol, early nights, regular exercise, daily mindfulness and many other brilliant resolutions – and I wish you success in your endeavours.

In spite of this you may still feel quite tired. The festive season is a fun but exhausting time, fraught with demands on your body, both physically and mentally, from friends, family and work.

This can leave you feeling quite run down and make you more vulnerable to viruses and bacterial infections – infections that you might otherwise have been able to fight off. This is due to two main factors: sleep and digestion.

  • Studies have shown sleep deprivation suppresses your immune system and decreases your body’s ability to fight off colds or flu. Therefore, now the party season is over, it is advisable to ensure you are getting 8 hours sleep per night to support your body’s defences. A brilliant book to read on the importance of sleep is ‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker – I guarantee you will never go to bed late again!
  • A weak digestive system can also impact your immune system as they too are closely linked. In fact, about 70% of your immune cells are found within your digestive system, known as gut associated lymphoid tissue or GALT. The dietary over-indulgence of the party season tends to put a strain on your gut and can contribute to a weakened immune system.

As a healthy gut is vital for a healthy immune system, ensuring you have a more alkaline diet after the usually acidic Christmas diet (alcohol, chocolate, sugar, dairy, red meat etc.) will help enormously.

Other nutrients that may help support your immune system at this time are:

  • Vitamin C: which is found in most fruits, particularly berries and dark leafy green vegetables
  • Vitamin D: which can be found in oily fish, butter and eggs. (The government recommends supplementing 10ug of vitamin D all year round although many people may need a higher dose to maintain optimal vitamin D levels.)
  • Zinc:which can be found in meat, eggs, whole grains and pumpkin seeds
  • Vitamin A: which can be found in oily fish and eggs. Orange and yellow vegetables also provide beta-carotene, which can be converted to vitamin A in the body
  • Selenium:which can be found in Brazil nuts, oily fish, eggs and seaweed
  • Iron:which can be found in liver (but liver should be avoided during pregnancy), meat, beans, nuts, dried fruit, whole grains and most dark-green leafy vegetables
  • Probiotics: you could also try a 12-week course of a good quality probiotic to support your microbiome. Recent studies suggest probiotics could play an important role in strengthening the digestive system and thus the immune system

However, should you succumb to a cold or flu, try these recipes to get you back on your feet more quickly.

The Chicken Soup

This is the traditional Chinese nourishing soup or Jewish penicillin – and it works brilliantly to help clear a cold or flu! It takes a few hours to cook, but literally minutes to put together.

Use fresh seasonal vegetables if you can.

Ingredients

  • 1 organic chicken
  • 3 sticks of celery, cut into 1” chunks
  • 3 carrots – cut in to 1” chunks
  • 1 half a squash
  • 1 sweet potato or parsnip
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 1 BIG bunch of fresh parsley or coriander – leave the stems on
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 6 whole cloves of garlic – or less if you prefer!
  • 2” of ginger (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns
  • juice of 1 lemon (to be added according to your taste at the end of cooking)

Method

  • Put the chicken in a large saucepan and cover it completely with cold water and add all the ingredients
  • Bring it to the boil and then turn it down to simmer with a lid on for 4-5 hours
  • Initially you will notice a white foam rise to the top of the water. Use a large spoon to skim this off the surface and discard. Once no further foam is being produced add more water to ensure the chicken is covered by at least an inch of water throughout
  • After 4-5 hours the soup is ready!

The medicinal part of the soup is the broth – therefore if you prefer you can strain the chicken and vegetables from the pan and simply drink the broth.  Do not waste the chicken meat though – it is great for risottos and pies.

Or you can make a hearty meal by stripping the meat off the chicken and adding it back into the broth with a fresh batch of vegetables (the old vegetables are best discarded) and if you like some brown rice or noodles.

Garlic Lemonade

This may not be quite as delicious as cloudy lemonade, but it works brilliantly at stopping a virus in its tracks!

  • First of all make 1 litre of homemade ginger tea. Put 1 litre of water into a saucepan and add 4” of chopped ginger to the water. Bring this to the boil in a covered pan and let it simmer for 10 minutes and then strain out the ginger
  • Then immediately add 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic to the hot ginger tea and let it steep for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes strain the garlic from the water
  • Add the juice of 1 organic lemon and a little honey or maple syrup to taste
  • You can also add a pinch of cayenne if you can tolerate it
  • Then drink it either whilst warm or at room temperature

The Pear Recipe

Should the virus result in increased phlegm this recipe will help dissolve the phlegm which can be very stubborn and can hang around even after you feel better. I always equate it to trying to wash up a frying pan covered in bacon fat without washing up liquid – it just smudges around the pan. Pear is to phlegm what washing up liquid is to bacon fat!

For a natural way to clear congestion follow these simple steps, 3 times a day before meals, for 3 days

  1. Cut an organic pear, lengthways
  2. Remove the core and fill the whole left by removing the core with a small teaspoon of molasses or muscovado sugar
  3. Then put the pears in a bowl within a steamer (without a bowl the pears will become very dry). Steam the pears for 10-15 minutes until the pears become soft
  4. Then eat the pear and drink the juice

Should you have any questions with regards to any of this information please feel free to contact me on info@justinehankin.co.uk.

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