Fortify yourself this winter with nature's medicine chest

Sunday, November 18, 2012 by: Carolanne Wright
Tags: immune system, winter, medicine chest

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(NaturalNews) Cold and flu season is almost upon us. Before it's too late, strengthen defenses naturally with herbal, dietary and lifestyle tips. If a bug does manage to settle in, use a few of the following suggestions to lessen symptoms and severity -- helping you to get back on your feet fast.

Diet for a strong immune system

Sugar. Quite literally the scourge of health. Macrophages (a type of white blood cell) consume invading viruses and bacteria. They protect us from the flu, colds and infections. However, when we consume sugar, these hard working cells slow down and harmful pathogens quickly multiply. Avoiding sugar during the cold and flu season will help to fend off illness and encourage health.

Eat more protein. Peter Glidden, ND, recommends that during the cold and flu season we should include protein with every meal. Organic, grass-fed beef, free range chicken and eggs are good choices. Vegetarian sources include chia and hemp seeds, beans and nut butters. Since the immune system is made up of a variety of proteins, supplying it with essential building blocks makes sense.

Pay attention to blood type. Avoid taxing the immune system by eating the correct food for your blood type. Type O will react negatively to foods containing gluten like wheat, according to Emily Kane, ND, LAc, while type A will have an issue with dairy products and beef. Steer clear of chicken if you are type B. And eat a little like both A and B if you are, well, type AB.

Don't forget good, old fashioned vitamin C, garlic and onions. Camu camu berry and amla are exceptional sources of immune boosting vitamin C. Both garlic and onions are high in sulfur -- functioning as powerful antibacterial and antiviral agents. To activate the dormant allicin sulfur compound, crush garlic before use and let sit for 10 minutes at room temperature.

Make sure to remember vitamin D and probiotics as well for healthy immune function.

Herbal reinforcements

Herbs can be your best ally during the cold and flu season -- helping to fortify the immune system and easing symptoms if a bug sets in.

Dr. Kane also recommends blood typing herbs. Medicinal mushrooms and Chinese tonics are effective for type B. Echinacea is beneficial for type A, especially if combined with goldenseal. Use Siberian ginseng or white larch for type O. Both B and O types do well with ashwagandha, astragalus or lomatium.

Lifestyle tips

Believe it or not, simple hand washing is one of the best defenses against infectious disease. Make sure to use warm water, lather well (it's the bubbles that escort germs off the skin and down the drain) and scrub all areas of the hand (including the sides) for 20 seconds. Rinse thoroughly. Consider these statistics according to a national survey of 916 people:

- Only 85 percent of respondents washed their hands after using the restroom

- 39 percent said they rarely or never washed their hands after coughing or sneezing

- A mere 59 percent of respondents realized that hand washing is the best way to prevent the flu and colds

Another trick to outsmart illness is immune enhancing hydrotherapy. By alternating hot and cold water in 60 second increments, the circulatory system is stimulated -- helping to detoxify the body while encouraging the production of endorphins. Bacteria and virus scavenging white blood cells also receive a boost. Always remember to finish a hydrotherapy session with cold water.

Be well this winter. With a few natural remedies on your side, a healthy and energetic season is on its way.

Sources for this article include:

"Garlic" George Mateljan Foundation. Retrieved on September 20, 2012 from:

"The Best Defense - Before the Winter Winds Blow, Brace Yourself Against Cold and Flu Bugs" Tina Rubin, Better Nutrition. Retrieved on September 20, 2012 from:

"Is Sugar Toxic?" Gary Taubes, New York Times, April 13, 2011. Retrieved on September 20, 2012 from:

"Nature Reviews: Immunology" Nature. Retrieved on September 20, 2012 from:

"Eat According to Your Blood Type" Lauren Passell. Retrieved on September 20, 2012 from:

"Regular Hand-Washing Can Prevent Against Colds, Flu" US News Today, September 24, 2008. Retrieved on September 20, 2012 from:

"Medicinal Benefits of Hydrotherapy" Elaine Moore, Suite 101, January 9, 2008. Retrieved on September 20, 2012 from:

About the author:
Carolanne believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, she has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of green living for over 13 years. Through her website, she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people who share a similar vision.

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