Nutrition – cold recovery

Posted on 8 May 2014

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

We all know that recovering from a bout of flu or a cold is not always easy. First off we tend to feel far more tired. There is this feeling that we need a “pick me up”.

Lemon tree - photo courtesy of Fran Linden at Stock.XchngWhat we need is something to support our immune system. To begin, a strong immune system is more skilled in preventing us catching most common colds and flus. Yet if our immune system is already below par and then we go and catch the flu or cold, it is stresses our body.

Our white blood cells are called up for duty; they are part of the immune system. While our immune system is fighting the viral invasion, our nutrient resources become depleted. To build up more fortified ‘weapons’ and ‘structures’ to protect our body against this viral invasion, we use more nutrients. Soon our body is feeling tired, it has been fighting and now needs to begin the repairs.

What can we do to boost our body while it recuperates? The following is a simple list of some well-known foods and remedies to take, while noting what to avoid:

  1. Rest cannot be emphasized more clearly! It is rest that is one of the best remedies of all time. We can’t always afford to take more days off work or recline back from our daily responsibilities, chores and tasks. Whether it be a stay at home, work or just general daily tasks. When you can, do rest.
  2. Echinacea is often available at pharmacies and health shops as a herbal tincture or in dried herb form. This herbal remedy has been researched for its properties that may be assisting our immune function. In my experience it is especially supportive while we are trying to regain vitality after a flu or cold episode. Use a reputable supplier for your Echinacea.
  3. Lemons are high in vitamin C and extremely bitter. They also offer a range of antioxidants, are refreshing and support liver function. The high acidity in lemons can be problematic for our teeth. Anyone with sensitive teeth should be especially mindful to avoid applying undiluted fresh lemon juice to the teeth, as the acidity promotes enamel erosion (enamel is the protective shield around our teet). Squeeze a fresh lemon into a glass of warm water, then sip slowly or through a straw. You can add some ginger or cinnamon, to spice it up. The idea is that you are making a tea of sorts to support your body. Best to use fresh lemons, not bottled lemon juice which has added sulphur dioxide (some people are sensitive to this preservative) or sugar added. More refined sugar is not supportive when our immune system is weak.
  4. Garlic is fantastically reputed to contribute natural antibiotic-like substances, while clinical research has proven its efficiency. This is besides its range of other healing properties, such as being anti-fungal and supplying high amounts of immune-boosting compounds. You can add garlic to food or add a crushed garlic clove to hot water, allow infusing and then sipping slowly when cooler. Use of fresh garlic is ideal.
  5. Green tea is fabulous as it has an assortment of antioxidants. It’s also comforting to sip warm liquids when feeling unwell. The only downside of green tea is its noteworthy caffeine content. If you do use it, be moderate in your green tea intake.
  6. Bananas are high in energy and supply some useful amounts of B vitamins. These are a great convenient natural ‘pick me up’ snack.
  7. Munch on whole food snacks and more vegetables, fresh fruits and unrefined whole grains. This is to gain a higher nutrient intake of vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre. When your diet is lacking in more nutritious foods, it is especially important to compliment your diet with vitamin and mineral supplements.
  8. Alcohol should be avoided as it is a suppressant. It is also dehydrating, as is caffeine. Being dehydrated is not supportive to well-being. All caffeine-containing beverages are to be kept to a minimum, or better still avoided, as caffeine gives us a boost of energy while not actually supporting the cause of our fatigue.
  9. Cigarette smoking should be shunned, that includes secondhand smoke. Smoke interferes with the respiratory organs and can be extremely negative when we are trying to deal with or heal flus and colds.
  10. Taking too many drug medications can also be a cause for feeling ‘under the weather’. Drugs are really effective for emergency cases and they are lifesaving in many circumstances. However when we abuse them, take them often, and use them for minor problems we can also be causing some side effects. All drug medications have side effects. That is why it is always important to read the sheet of information that comes with all packaged medications. As we all react differently to medications, it is always best to consult with your health care professional. Antibiotics fight bacterial infections. Often we take antibiotics for flu or colds, yet often these viral infections are not bacterial infections. So we are taking something quite commonly that is not particularly worth the side effect of diarrhoea, fatigue or possible future antibiotic resistance.

Often we succumb to a series of flus and colds in one season, this reveals how weakened our immune system is. When you can, take action to boost your immune defence. It’s simple with responsible lifestyle choices and dietary habits. Feeling tired is not a way to live! We should all be feeling high in our vitality and be able to deal with an adventurous life. We have the power, every time we feed ourselves, to either support or not support our bodies. Love yourself enough to care about your own well-being!

Take care, Anastacia

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