By Stephen Eddey, Naturopath, Nutritionist and Principal of Health Schools Australia.
Australia is officially in the midst of the dreaded flu season, but before you reach for your well-worn pack of cold and flu tablets, consider healing yourself naturally. Old-wives tale remedies aside, there are scientifically proven ways to boost your immunity and protect against winter illness, using ingredients from Mother Nature herself.
1. Olive Leaf Extract: Antioxidants eat up free radicals that can damage our immune system. One of the most powerful antioxidants is Olive Leaf Extract. Fresh-Picked™ Olive Leaf Extract by Comvita has five times (400%) more antioxidant power than the equivalent amount of Vitamin C. Research conducted in Israel found that olive leaf extract can provide powerful immune system support, maintain normal heart function and can even aid in the management of viral infections, as it has antiviral and antibacterial properties. Research has found olive leaf extract kills almost all bacteria, including Candida albicans and E coli.
2. Manuka Honey: Published data suggests this healing honey stimulates immune cells and stops the growth of Strep bacteria. It’s hardly surprising then that many people benefit from a spoonful of honey!
3. Ginger: Studies have shown that ginger has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It helps to boost immune function and combat cellular damage.
4. Zinc: Research suggests that zinc helps control infections by slowing on the immune response in a way that prevents damaging, out-of-control inflammation. Researchers believe this may be why taking zinc tablets at the start of a common cold appears to help stem the effects of the illness.
5. Mushrooms: A new University of Florida study shows increased immunity in people who ate a cooked shiitake mushroom every day for four weeks.
6. Olive Oil: Olive oil in your diet may help to boost your immune system, as a Spanish research review found diets rich in olive oil are beneficial for the immune system.
7. Vitamin D: Vitamin D is an important part of the immune system. In the winter months the sun is at its lowest and our immune system is depleted. Our vitamin D levels fall and immune systems tend to weaken. Some studies have shown that people who have low vitamin D levels may have a higher chance of developing influenza.
8. Peppermint: This superstar herb can help kill bacteria and soothe an aching body. It also contains menthol, which acts as a decongestant. Sip on peppermint tea when you’re suffering from a cold, and you’ll reap the benefits!
Remember: supplementing your diet with immune boosters can be beneficial, but make sure you also cut out the processed foods that can work against you- yes, that’s right, a spoonful of Manuka Honey won’t be enough to counteract that entire block of chocolate (*sob*).
Comvita’s Fresh-Picked™ Olive Leaf Extract is available at most pharmacies and health food stores nationwide. Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist, please see your health professional.
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