It's a challenge we all face when trying to stay fit and healthy – any sort of injury, cold or flu can have a big impact on us, both physically and motivationally.
If you start to feel the telltale signs of a cold coming, there are a few things you can do to strengthen your natural immunity. And while there’s no such thing as a quick-fix cure for the common cold, these tips should help shorten the duration – or get rid of it completely… 🤞
GUT HEALTH (and your immune system)
A strong immune system begins with a healthy gut.
The microbes in your gut play a crucial role in protecting your immune system. In fact, over 70% of the body's immune cells are responsible for keeping you healthy and free from disease. So, by eating foods that support your microbiome, you may also be able to help keep your immune system strong.
A diverse microbiome is a healthy microbiome, as it is home to many different microbes that all have unique functions. This helps fend off infection and disease. However, your microbiome diversity naturally decreases with age. Therefore, you need to take extra care of yourself and focus on maintaining a good mix of microbes as you get older.
You can increase the diversity of your microbiome by eating lots of plant-based foods, which are high in fibre, and limiting ultra-processed and junk food.
- Opt for the whole grains, fruit, veg, legumes, lean meats, oily fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, berries and olive oil
- Get some natural probiotics like yogurt and kefir to have as a daily shot or make your own.
- Avoid processed foods, salt, sweets and alcohol
VITAMIN C + ZINC
Load up with a Vitamin C and Zinc supplement until it passes
We know it’s not clear whether Vitamin C prevents colds but research shows that it can help to get rid of them.
Vitamin C has many functions, including working as an antioxidant to protect cells from oxidative damage. It also maintains the body’s supply of other antioxidants, including Glutathione (which we’ll cover in point 2).
Where Zinc is concerned, the average person’s diet doesn’t tend to include enough of the stuff. On top of that, colds can really lower your Zinc reserves. Your immune system and energy production really depend on you having a solid supply of Zinc, so it’s vital to up your intake when you start to feel a cold coming on. Also sucking on a Zinc Lozenge is great for keeping a sore throat at bay.
What to take: Something like this from Higher Nature is great, or just grab a pack of effervescent tablets from the supermarket Boots. They ensure you get some much-needed H2O as you fight off those pesky germs too.
Make your own antioxidant!
Your body makes its own antioxidants, of which Glutathione is one. The amino acid L-Glutamine is a core component of this antioxidant, so it’s great for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
In fact, Glutathione is amazing. It boosts your cellular energy and immune system, which helps fight infections like colds.
However, dietary Glutathione is poorly absorbed by the human body. And while your body can produce its own Glutathione, it gets used up fighting inflammation, toxins, free radicals and pathogens, especially when you're not feeling so well. It’s important to note that it depletes even faster when you’re dealing with the effects of stress.
As such, supplementing your diet with the essential amino acid L-Glutamine can help your body to make and maintain adequate levels of this antioxidant.
It is also worth noting that Vitamin C plays a vital role in maintaining Glutathione levels. For this reason, taking a Vitamin C supplement may also help boost your body’s antioxidant production.
What to take: Try Glutamine from Bulk Powders (unflavoured). Mix the powder with a Vit C+Zinc drink before bed or first thing in the morning.
LEMON, GINGER, GARLIC & TURMERIC
The store cupboard dream team
Lemon, ginger, garlic and turmeric will all help you out in different ways.
Garlic lends a hand with immune support because it’s antiviral, antibacterial, antiparasitic and antifungal.
Ginger is a helpful natural cold remedy. It's antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and can help with headaches and sore throats.
Turmeric is fantastic for helping you feel better because its active compound, curcumin, keeps your inflammation in check, helps to regulate your immune system and has antimicrobial properties.
Lemon and raw honey, on the other hand, is a combo that your nan will probably swear by – and she’s right. As well as tasting better than Lemsip, lemon is rich in Vitamin C and raw honey has antimicrobial properties and helps soothe sore throats.
What to take: Simply add any variation of these ingredients to hot water and make some tea. Well, maybe not the garlic...! Instead, take a couple of cloves, smash them in a pestle and mortar and wait about 10 mins (while your tea brews). Either spread on toast (maybe with some avocado) or pinch your nose and wash it down with tasty tea.
To make tea: Add a thumbnail-sized cube of ginger (scored), the juice of a quarter of lemon and a teaspoon of both turmeric powder and honey to hot water. Leave to steep for 10 mins before enjoying on the sofa.
It's free and easy!
Get to bed by 10pm. Simples! Sleep is nature’s best healer and it's free. Turn off your electronics at least 30mins beforehand and have a warm shower or bath to relax.
You might have heard your grandparents (and great grandparents) say that "Every hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after midnight." Although it’s not that simple, the sentiment is true.
Dr. Matt Walker, Head of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at the University of California, Berkeley explains how sleep quality changes as the night wears on: “The time of night when you sleep makes a significant difference in terms of the structure and quality of your sleep,” he says.
Your slumber is composed of a series of 90-minute cycles during which your brain moves from deep, non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep to REM sleep. “That 90-minute cycle is fairly stable throughout the night,” Walker continues. “But the ratio of non-REM to REM sleep changes.”
When it comes to bedtime, he says there’s a window of several hours – roughly between 8pm and 12am – when your brain and body have the opportunity to get all the non-REM and REM shuteye they need to function optimally. The later you leave your bedtime, the less likely you are to get restorative non-REM.
So, if you're a little groggy-headed in the morning, consider an earlier bedtime and make sure you get your 8 hours of beauty sleep. Your body will thank you for it. Plus, if it means you get up at 6am, you might be able to squeeze in a 30-min gym session before work too!