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COLDS, COUGHS AND INFLUENZA

 

Colds

 

The rhinoviruses (over 100 strains) consist of a single-stranded RNA nucleic acid molecule and are not surrounded by an envelope. This virus is responsible for approximately 50 per cent of common colds and only infects the upper respiratory tract. Once infected, the body makes a specific antibody to avoid re-infection to the particular strain it has encountered.  Most people recover within a few days from a cold although a cough may linger on a while. If it does not stop after three weeks it is best to consult a health care professional.

 

Influenza

 

There are three classifications of the influenza virus: A, B and C. The most common cause of the flu is Influenza A. It often occurs in epidemics during late autumn or early winter. The highest incidence of the flu is in school children. The incubation period is 48 hours. Acute symptoms usually subside in two to three days. Chills, fever, headache and muscular aches and pains are the most common initial symptoms followed by a severe cough. Persons at risk for serious complications include those with chronic pulmonary disease, heart valve disease or heart disease.

 

Avoiding colds, coughs and influenza

 

Wash hands regularly during the cold and influenza seasons especially after touching any surface others may have touched such as door handles, cash machines, money etc. This is especially important before eating or doing anything that involves the hands touching the mouth such as smoking. It is good to get into the habit of washing the hands as soon as getting home so that the cold virus does not infect others in the household. Always use a tissue when sneezing and coughing and dispose of it properly.

 

Vitamin D deficiency is very common during the winter months between October and April in the northern hemisphere which includes areas such as Europe, Canada and the USA. This is because the sun's rays are too weak for the skin to be able to produce this vitamin and the body only stores enough vitamin D to last about 60 days. Therefore, by November, levels will be running very low.  Some people's levels will be unaffected as they consume plenty of vitamin D rich foods which explains why some people may not be affected by the cold and flu virus epidemics.

 

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The body stores vitamin D, which it manufactures in the skin using cholesterol and the suns UV rays and vitamin D acts as a natural antibiotic working against all types of microbes (bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses). It has shown, in scientific studies, to be more affective at preventing influenza than vaccines and anti-viral medications. Vitamin D levels can very easily become deficient, especially during the winter months thus making an individual highly susceptible to infections from November to April. It is during this period that blood tests should be done, especially if an individual keeps getting infections, colds, coughs and influenza, and extra vitamin D rich foods should be consumed.

 

Highest sources of vitamin D per serving

  • Krill oil - 1 teaspoon: 1000 IU

  • Eel - 85 g or 3 oz: 792 IU

  • Maitake mushrooms - 70 g: 786 IU

  • Rainbow trout - 85 g or 3 oz: 540 IU

  • Cod liver oil - 1 teaspoon: 440 IU

  • Mackerel - 85 g or 3 oz: 400 IU

  • Salmon - 85 g or 3 oz: 400 IU

  • Halibut - 85 g or 3 oz: 196 IU

  • Tuna - 85 g or 3 oz: 228 IU

  • Sardines - 85 g or 3 oz: 164 IU

  • Chanterelle mushrooms - 85 g or 3 oz: 155 IU

  • Raw milk - 1 glass or 8 oz: 98 IU

  • Egg yolk - 1 large: 41 IU

  • Caviar - 28g or 1 oz: 33 IU

  • Hemp seeds - 100 g or 3.5 oz: 22 IU

  • Portabella mushrooms - 85 g or 3 oz: 6 IU

NOTE: One IU is the biological equivalent of 0.3 μg or 0.3 micrograms.

NOTE: Farmed salmon is often deficient in vitamin D whereas wild salmon is not. Oily fish is the best addition to the diet. Read more about Oily fish

Sardine tin

To reduce a fever

Pineapple juice

A raised temperature (fever) can accompany both a bacterial or viral infection. The ancient saying of "Feed a cold and starve a fever" is not accurate according to scientists. They have found that starving a bacterial infection can be advantageous and help to kill it off but starving a viral infection, such as colds and flu, is not helpful and may cause harm due to nutrient deficiencies that may be caused which will reduce the strength of the immune system.

 

Therefore the modern educated version should be "Feed a virus and starve a bacteria".

 

Glucose, not fats or protein, are the food component that must be avoided during a bacterial infection but this will make no difference during a viral infection.

 

Often the appetite is low during viral infections and so juices should be made up of nutritious natural organic foods. Aloe vera, radish, coconut water and pineapple (prevents dehydration) in warm water with honey, lemon and ginger can naturally help to reduce a fever and replace electrolytes that may have been lost during profuse perspiration. Soups made with fish or chicken and many different colours of vegetables can provide the nutrients that can help the body fight off viruses.

 

Juices that are good for fighting the cold and influenza viruses and reducing a fever.

  • Apricot

  • Blackberries

  • Carrot

  • Garlic

  • Kiwi fruit

  • Lemon

  • Onion

  • Orange

  • Passion fruit

  • Spinach

  • Watercress

  • Watermelon

Natural remedies to help prevent and fight off colds, coughs and influenza

Aubergine: The seeds of aubergine are an immune system stimulant. Intake of half a gram to one gram of these seeds daily for three days can help to develop immunity against many bacteria and  viruses for one year.

Berries: red, blue and black coloured berries are all rich in powerful antioxidants and can help prevent colds and the influenza viruses from taking hold of the body. Consume one bowl per day.

Brazil nuts are a rich source of selenium which is known to improve the immune system function. Consume two brazil nuts daily to prevent colds and influenza.

Chicken broth: A bowl of homemade chicken broth can boost the immune system and help to fight off a viral infection quickly. Chicken broth is a good source of protein, an important nutrient for immune system maintenance. It also contains B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and zinc, all of which strengthen the immune system. It also helps the body stay hydrated, which can speed up the healing process. Take a small bowl or mug of chicken broth several times a day when dealing with symptoms of a cold, including a cough and nasal congestion. many of the other remedies for cold and coughs listed here can be added to chicken broth to provide even more protection and relief from colds and coughs.

Chilli pepper contains capsaicin which helps to boost the immune system. It is also rich in  beta-carotene which is essential for a healthy immune system as it helps defend the body against invading pathogens to prevent illness. It also helps to clear congestion, flush out toxins, stimulate the digestion and reduces symptoms of colds and other infections. It is also a good pain reliever, aids blood circulation and prevents diabetes, headaches, heart disease, migraines, prostate cancer, psoriasis and stomach ulcers. To improve immunity, and help with all the above disorders, include at least a pinch or two of hot chilli pepper in the daily diet.

Chilli peppers, garlic, ginger, onions and radishes are especially good dietary additions since they have powerful antiviral properties.

Chinese rhubarb root contains anthraquinones that can create virucidal activity against the influenza virus.

Daikon is a type of radish and a tea made with daikon, shittake mushrooms and kombu seaweed can be used to lower fever and fight infection.

Eucalyptus oil: To relieve headaches from sinus congestion and sooth a sore throat Inhale the infused steam deeply by adding a few drops of the oil to a bowl of just boiled water and leaning over it with a towel over the head .(external use only). Fresh branches from the eucalyptus tree can also be tied together upside down in the shower. NOTE: Not advised for those that suffer with asthma.

Garlic is one of best immune-boosting foods as it has powerful antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral properties that help the body ward off and fight infections. Regular consumption of garlic helps the body fight infections and inflammatory diseases like the common cold, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis. It can also help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and aid in preventing various types of cancer. To stay healthy, eat one or two raw garlic cloves daily.

Ginger: Apart from being a strong antioxidant, ginger has antibiotic, antimicrobial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It can help to eliminate congestion, ease a sore throat, kill cold viruses, combat fever, inhibit pancreatic cancer cell growth, inhibit peptic ulcer disease, promote gastric mobility, decrease chronic pain and lower high cholesterol. Drink one to two cups of ginger tea daily to keep the immune system functioning properly.

Green vegetables such as algae, barley grass, cabbage, chlorella, kale, kelp, seaweed, spinach, spirulina and watercress contain components which are important for the immune system to work correctly. Consume one per day to prevent and fight off colds and influenza viruses.

Green tea can boost the immune system as it contains a flavonoid called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and antioxidants that help to fight bacteria and prevent viruses from multiplying. Regular consumption of green tea can also help to prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis periodontal disease and strokes. Drink a cup of green tea several times a day. Take with half a freshly squeezed lemon to provide an even more powerful remedy.

Honey, lemon or lime and apple cider vinegar: Daily consumption of honey has been found to strengthen the immune system. Its antibacterial, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties help fight infections from bacteria, fungi, viruses and yeasts. Honey also improves the digestive system, treats acid reflux, soothes a sore throat and a cough, improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity and, externally, heal wounds and scars quickly. Start each day with one teaspoon of honey in a glass of lukewarm water with half a squeezed lemon or lime and a tablespoon of unpasteurised organic apple cider vinegar to help the body ward off and fight any kind of infection. Manuka or locally sourced honey is best. Locally sourced honey may help to prevent hay fever and other allergies.

Mushrooms have a high antioxidant content and are rich in the essential minerals selenium and copper that are important for the immune system. The best ones to consume for this purpose are maitake, reishi or shiitake mushrooms.

Passion fruit contains components which have the ability to relieve sore throat and hoarseness.

Phyllanthus amarus herb is very effective in naturally treating colds and the influenza virus.

Raw juice therapy can successfully treat a cold. The best organic natural foods to juice are: carrot, celery, ginger, grapefruit, lemon, onion, orange and pineapple. NOTE: Avoid grapefruit if taking any medications.

Swede: This vegetable is high in nutrients that can support the immune system and help to treat the symptoms of colds and coughs. Add to a chicken broth for maximum benefit.

Sweet potatoes are rich in the fat-soluble antioxidant beta-carotene, which protects against damaging free radicals and improves immune cell function. Plus, they have a high amount of vitamin A, which is required for the normal functioning of the immune system and helps develop resistance to infection. In order to absorb the fat soluble nutrients in sweet potatoes always consume them with a little cold pressed oil or with avocado, fish, nuts and seeds. Sweet potatoes also help regulate blood sugar and lower insulin resistance; combat inflammatory problems like asthma, arthritis, and gout; relieve constipation and prevent colon cancer; protect against emphysema and prevent strokes and heart attacks. Eat one-half cup of boiled sweet potatoes daily to improve the immune system and stay healthy.

Thyme and lemon thyme: A tea made with thyme is commonly used for bronchial problems such as bronchitis, whooping cough and laryngitis.  It is also beneficial for the treatment of diarrhoea, chronic gastritis and lack of appetite.  Other uses are: alcoholism, hangover, headache, colds and coughs, excess mucus, stomach problems, stomach cramps, worms and parasites and virus infections. Drink a thyme tea two or three times a day.

Turmeric has powerful anti-microbial properties and can help to prevent colds and influenza when a half teaspoon is included in the daily diet. Add to meals or sprinkle on eggs, fish, rice or vegetables. It is particularly good with cauliflower.

Yoghurt with active live cultures provides beneficial bacteria that have many important functions in the body including the manufacture of nutrients and aiding with digestion. They also help to improve the immune system. Consume a pot of plain organic yoghurt daily with breakfast or as a topping on desserts or in sauces or dips instead of cream.

Natural cough remedy

Ingredients

  • 400 ml. of water

  • Two ripe organic bananas

  • Half the juice of one lemon

  • Two tablespoons of raw organic honey

Method

  • Heat the water in a pan until it reaches boiling point then let it cool for five to ten minutes.

  • Mash the bananas in a bowl and add the water and mix.

  • Then add the honey and lemon and mix again then store in the refrigerator in a large airtight jar.

  • Shake the jar well then warm one tablespoon of the mixture gently (do not boil) and consume four times a day with one dose being just before bed.

Nutrients that can help fight off a cold and cough

Vitamin C is essential for a strong immune system. Consuming the richest sources of this vital nutrient is important in preventing and during a cold. Contrary to what people often think oranges are not the best source of this vital vitamin as they only contain 53 mg per 100 grams and can cause stomach upset in some people. However, when consuming vitamin C  it is also important to consume the same amount of vitamin E rich foods as they have  an opposite effect upon the mineral levels in the body and too much of one will cause an imbalance. Vitamin C increases iron uptake, which vitamin E inhibits. Vitamin C lowers manganese and zinc, while vitamin E helps increase manganese and zinc absorption. As a result, a very high intake of vitamin C will require an equally high intake of vitamin E to maintain the same ratio.

Dosing up on vitamin C supplements, as so many do during the winter, should be avoided because zinc is also vital for fighting off and preventing colds, coughs and influenza and too much iron can have adverse health effects. For instance cancer cells thrive on iron and too much iron can damage the heart and liver leading to cardiovascular disease and cirrhosis.

Adding some nuts like almonds, brazils, cashew nuts or walnuts and/or seeds such as flax, hemp, pumpkin, sesame or sunflower seeds to the diet at the same time as any of the vitamin C-rich foods below can help to keep this balance.

When a fever is present avoid supplements containing iron or zinc as iron causes great tension in a body that is fighting infection and zinc is not absorbed by the body during fever.

The highest sources of vitamin C in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Acerola cherries 1677.6 mg

  • Camu camu berries 532 mg

  • Rosehips 426 mg

  • Green chillies 242.5 mg

  • Guavas 228.3 mg

  • Yellow bell peppers 183.5 mg

  • Black currants 181 mg

  • Thyme 160.01 mg

  • Red chillies 143.7 mg

  • Drumstick pods 141 mg

  • Kale 120 mg

  • Jalapeno peppers 118.6 mg

  • Kiwi fruit 105.4 mg

  • Sun dried tomatoes 102 mg

  • Broccoli 89 mg

  • Brussel sprouts 85 mg

  • Cloves, saffron 81 mg

  • Chilli pepper 76 mg

  • Mustard greens 70 mg

  • Cress 69 mg

  • Persimmons fruit 66 mg

  • Swede 62 mg

  • Basil 61 mg

  • Papaya 60 mg

  • Rosemary 61 mg

  • Strawberries 58 mg

  • Chives 58 mg

Highest sources of vitamin E in milligrams per 100 grams

 

  • Wheat germ 149.4 mg

  • Hemp seeds 55 mg

  • Hazelnut oil 47 mg

  • Almond oil 39 mg

  • Sunflower seeds 38.3 mg

  • Chilli powder 38.1 mg

  • Paprika 38 mg

  • Rice bran oil 32 mg

  • Grape seed oil 29 mg

  • Almonds 26.2 mg

  • Oregano 18.3 mg

  • Hazelnuts 17 mg

  • Flaxseed oil 17 mg

  • Peanut oil 16 mg

  • Hazelnuts 15.3 mg

  • Corn oil 15 mg

  • Olive oil 14 mg

  • Soya bean oil 12 mg

  • Pine nuts 9.3 mg

  • Cloves (ground) 9 mg

  • Peanuts 8 mg

  • Celery flakes (dried) 6 mg

  • Spirulina 5 mg

  • Dried apricots 4.3 mg

  • Bell peppers (red), eel, olives and salmon 4 mg

  • Jalapeno peppers 3.6 mg

  • Anchovies 3.3 mg

  • Broccoli, chicken, chilli peppers (sun-dried), cod, crayfish, dandelion greens, egg yolk, duck, goose, pecan nuts, spinach, tomatoes (tinned or pureed) turkey and turnip greens 3 mg

  • Avocado, beef, bilberries, blue berries, butter, chicory greens, cinnamon (ground), crab, halibut, herring (pickled), mackerel, marjoram, mustard greens, pistachio nuts, poppy seeds, sardines, sesame seeds, Swiss chard, trout, tuna, turnips and walnuts 2 mg

  • Fish roe 1.9 mg

  • Asparagus, kiwi fruit and parsnips 1.5 mg

  • Black berries 1.2 mg

  • Chlorella 1.1 mg

Zinc has been shown to speed up the recovery from colds and coughs.

Highest sources of zinc in milligrams per 100 grams are:

  • Oysters 78.6 mg

  • Chlorella 71 mg

  • Wheat germ 16.7 mg

  • Beef 12.3 mg

  • Calf's liver 11.9 mg

  • Hemp seeds 11.5 mg

  • Pumpkin and squash seeds 10.3 mg

  • Sesame and watermelon seeds 10.2 mg

  • Bamboo shoots, endives and gourds 9 mg

  • Chervil (herb) 8.8 mg

  • Lamb 8.7 mg

  • Venison 8.6 mg

  • Alfalfa seeds (sprouted), amaranth leaves, Crimini mushrooms, Irish moss and tea 8 mg

  • Crab 7.6 mg

  • Lobster 7.3 mg

  • Agave, basil, beefalo, broccoli, elk, emu, oats, ostrich, spinach and turkey 7 mg

  • Cocoa powder 6.8 mg

  • Asparagus, chicken livers, laver seaweed, mushrooms, parsley and rice bran 5.7 mg

  • Cashew nuts 5.6 mg

  • Pork 5.1 mg

  • Jute (herb), lemon grass, mung beans, Portobello mushrooms, radishes and shiitake mushrooms 5 mg

  • Agar seaweed, butterbur, cauliflower, chicory, Chinese cabbage, chives, coriander, green beans, lentils, lettuce, okra, rocket, spring onions, summer squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes and wasabi (yellow) 3.4 mg

  • Peanuts 3.3 mg

  • Cheddar cheese 3.1 mg

  • Mozzarella cheese 2.9 mg

  • Anchovies and rabbit 2.4 mg

  • Cabbage, cucumber, jalapeno peppers, , kidney beans, navy beans, spirulina and turnip greens 2 mg

  • Mussels 1.6 mg

  • Arrowroot, artichokes (globe), beetroot, bell peppers, black eyed peas, borage, broad beans, Brussel sprouts, butter beans, cabbage, carrots, celery, chilli peppers, courgettes, dandelion greens, garlic, horseradish, kale, kelp, mustard greens, peas, pinto beans, potatoes, pumpkin, turnips, Swede, sweet potato, tomatoes (red),  wakame (seaweed), watercress and winged beans 1.2 mg

NOTE: Avoid excess cumin, ginger and turmeric if taking anticoagulants (blood thinning medication), or hormone therapies and contraceptive pills or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen, have heart problems or during the first three months of pregnancy or are breast feeding.

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