Winter Wellness: Build Your Armoury

It may be the hardest time of the year to fend off colds and flus, but our Naturopath, Renae, shares her top tips for Winter Wellness!

Now is the time to build your natural medicine armoury in preparation for cold and flu season. There are some wonderful herbs, minerals and vitamins shown to be not only clinically effective in reducing symptoms associated with infections, but in specifically modulating the immune system to perform optimally. When utilised properly, this multi-targeted approach makes natural medicine invaluable in protecting us from colds and flu.

Firstly, I can’t emphasise enough: diet is a foundation of strong immunity!

A huge part of our immunity sits quietly in our digestive system; in all those good bacteria, collectively known as the microbiome. A plant-rich diet provides the prebiotic fibres necessary for the growth of immune supporting bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. Theseprobiotics create a ‘bug barrier’, taking up space on the intestinal wall to prevent the colonisation of harmful bacteria and yeasts, which we may be exposed to via our digestive tract.

To put it simply… the more unprocessed plant-based foods you can eat throughout your day, the better! Find a way to include a minimum of four cups of vegetables per day, in the form of daily green smoothies, juices, salads, soups, or raw, steamed and roasted vegetables. Vegetables, herbs, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds are all nutrient dense. This means they are fuelling your immune system with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, whilst feeding your microbiome (or ‘bug barrier’).

As well as boosting your vegetable intake through your diet, this immune first-aid kit will help to protect you from colds and flu…naturally:

  • Vitamin C  supplementation has been found to not only reduce infection of the common cold virus, but also reduce its symptoms and length.
  • Zinc  Up to 83% of Australians don’t receive the RDI (reference daily intake) of Zinc in their diet, which is concerning as even a mild zinc deficiency can impact normal immune processes. A zinc taste test is a simple screening test your Naturopath or pharmacist can perform to evaluate your zinc levels, which I strongly recommend. Optimal Zinc levels can help inhibit common cold and Influenza viruses.
  • Andrographis  is a highly bitter herb capable of enhancing your immune response and reducing the duration of viral infection, when taken at the first sign of symptoms. It is also therapeutically useful for sore throats and tonsillitis.
  • Echinacea  has been widely researched, and found to be a wonderful herb for both prevention and treatment of the common cold. A great herb to take for preventing upper respiratory tract infections during plane travel if you’re planning to escape the winter chill at home.
  • Probiotics  Specific strains of lactobacillus and bifidobacteria have been scientifically found to enhance your immune response. As the age old Naturopathic saying goes, ‘good health begins in the gut!’

As with all natural medicines, please seek advice from a qualified Naturopath beforehand to ensure optimal quality and safety of your supplements.

See you next time for my blog on Winter Wellness for Children!

Renae Trivic is available on Wednesdays and Thursdays for appointments at West Perth Osteopathy should you like to discuss how you can improve your immunity, and to prescribe the perfect plan for your best health yet.