Oh February, how you tease us with the promise of the end of Winter.
As the chilly darkness soon fades (hopefully!) into distant memory (until next year, of course), we all still know that doesn’t necessarily mean an end to the colds, flus and general bugs that tend to attack us mercilessly this time of year. Here at MACACHA HQ, our team of Healthistas fell foul of one such unpleasantness recently: suffice to say our usual jollity was somewhat toned down for a week!
Our team do tend to look after themselves, but when there’s a particularly vengeful virus lurking about even they need some additional help! So, we’ve decided to share a few of our favourite natural remedies that we have used in the past and personally found really helpful.
It’s worth noting that your average remedy picked up from the chemist may ease your symptoms, but don’t forget that some of those medications could be giving your body even more work to do as your liver has to process the pill, capsule or other medication you’ve taken, diverting resources away from your immune system which is already under pressure.
By opting instead of powerful botanical ingredients you can help boot that bug out the door as well as bolstering your defences against future nasties that might be lurking!
And before those sniffles even start, don’t forget that we need protein for everything. Literally! Not only as an energy source but also to maintain our bones, for healthy hair and nails, and to make all of the cells in our body – including enzymes, hormones and immune cells. Without enough protein our immune cells cannot be made and our innate ability to stay well is compromised.
Clean forms of protein such as our PEACE and ENEGY blends are perfect for boosting your daily intake by adding to a smoothie, or snack (check out our recipes!) or by incorporating some extra protein into your breakfast on a busy day! Delish!
For more information on how much protein you need, check out our All About Protein page for recommendations.
So what are the MACACHA team’s favourite natural remedies?
1 – Elderberry
These purple-black fruits of the elderberry plant have been a traditional remedy across many cultures for ages. Elderberries are rich in phytonutrients, anthocyanins (which give them their dark colour) and phenolic compounds which may contribute to the protection of cells from oxidant stress. Please note these berries are indigestible when raw! But we love them in a syrup or tea.
2 – Echinacea
Another oldie but a goodie, echinacea has been traditionally used to support the immune system, helping the body’s resistance against colds and flus. It’s best taken at the onset of symptoms and gradually tapered off over the following week.
3 – Zinc
Plays a vital role in the maintenance of immune function; even just a mild deficiency and your body’s natural defence system becomes severely short staffed.
You can maintain good Zinc levels by regularly including the foods below in your diet and give yourself a boost with a good supplement if those pesky pathogens come a-knocking.*
Food Sources of Zinc: Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, lentils, chickpeas, cashews, quinoa, spinach, beef, lamb, turkey, prawns.
*If you would like more information on non-dietary Zinc supplementation we suggest you contact a registered healthcare professional.
4- Olive Leaf Extract
Derived from the leaves of the olive tree (surprise, surprise!), olive leaf extract is high in polyphenols and flavonoids, as well as oleuropein – a phenolic compound which supports a healthy immune system.
Some people find that gargling with olive leaf tea at the onset of a sore throat to be really helpful in easing their symptoms.
5 – Garlic
A member of the allium family of vegetables (along with onions leeks, spring onions, shallots and chives), these natural beauties contain numerous phytonutrients, in addition to the mineral Selenium and sulphur compounds which contribute to the normal functioning of the immune system.
The best way to consume garlic as a cold and flu fighter is raw (sorry!). Crush or mince a clove then leave it exposed to oxygen for 10 minutes. This allows the enzymes to convert the compounds within the garlic to the active forms. Hide this potent delight in dressings, pestos, dips, stir through dishes right at the point of serving, or if you’re daring try it as a shot with some fresh lemon juice and a dash of Manuka honey. (We recommend pre-warning anyone sharing your bed/close proximity – you might be a bit aromatic in the breath department…!)
6 – Turmeric
This sunflower-yellow spice has been hitting the headlines recently as practically a panacea and for good reason!
Turmeric contains curcumin which is often credited with anti-inflammatory properties, helping to balance the response of our immune system to daily stressors. When you fall ill, your immune system goes into hyperdrive to get rid of the invaders causing you that general unpleasantness. By including ingredients like turmeric into your daily diet your body may be better prepared to fight off any nasties.
Try adding ground or fresh turmeric to eggs, soups, stews, juices or smoothies – but be careful, it does tend to leave an orange tinge to things like utensils and fingers!
So that brings us to the end of our immunity spotlights, but before we sign off we thought we’d share a few of our team’s personal favourite products. This is by no means an exhaustive list and examples below will not suit everyone, they just happen to be what we arm ourselves with when we feel that tickle coming!
The MACACHA team’s SOS toolkit essentials:
- Wellness Formula
- Unbeelievable Bee Prepared Immune Max
- Pukka Elerberry Syrup
- Comvita Manuka Honey UMF 15+ & Manuka Honey Lozenges
- Comvita Olive Leaf Extract
Written by Phoebe, Nutritional Therapist BSc DipNT mBANT mNNA mCNHC