Why do some people rarely suffer from colds and flu but others suffer badly?
Here are some ideas to build a healthy immune system:
- Get enough sleep in Winter, catnap for 15-20 minutes during the day if you do not sleep for long enough at night.
- Avoid overheating or shutting the door of your bedroom or sleeping area. Open the window a fraction if you have to shut the door. I sleep outside about 2 nights a week, even on the snow, or in the rain (in a bivouac bag). I have not suffered a chill or flu for many years.
- Practice good hygiene if anyone close to you does have a virus. Keep your eating & drinking utensils separate, use the dishwasher or heat plates and cups over 83 degrees C. Dispose of tissues carefully. Avoid getting too close to friends or family when they are infectious.
- Eat highly nutritious foods – Vary your diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables in season, nuts, seeds eg. tahini (from sesame seeds), eggs, Dark green vegetables and cauliflower contain calcium & folic acid. Brightly coloured vegetables and dark blue or red fruits contain anthocyanidins. Eat a selection of nuts every day. (1. nuts are also good for your heart). Almonds contain antioxidants such as flavonoids & quercitin. as some vegetables. Avoid salted, roasted nuts, they are deep fried in palm oil and sprayed with salt. Mangoes contain lots of beta-carotine a vegetable form of vitamin A. Orange and red vegetables contain carotinoids. If your diet is high in fruit, nuts and veg. it does not leave room for lots of meat. Cook a quality chicken, simmer the bones to make stock and make a soup every week. Regularly take a spoonful of wheatgerm (high in vitamin E) and oatbran (high in soluble fibre).
- Drink real coffee, (it protects against liver cancer), and tea (green tea if you like it). 3 cups of caffeine drinks a day is wise. Drink red grapefruit juice (take care, grapefruit can make some drugs especially heart drugs more effective). Grape juice contains reservtrol. Smoothies are good but the high fructose can lead to a very loose bowel. Fructose or fruit sugar contains oligosaccharides – short chain sugars that are hard to digest.
- Enjoy sugar, especially the darker honeys. There is a simple rule as to whether sugar is good or bad for you, Does it stick to your teeth afterwards? If it sticks to your teeth it is likely to be processed. Processed sugars make your blood sugar levels fluctuate wildly.
1. Fraser GE, Sabate J, Beeson WL, Strahan TM. A possible protective effect of nut consumption on risk of coronary heart disease. The Adventist Health Study. Arch Intern Med. 1992;152(7):1416-1424. (PubMed)
If you do feel that you are coming down with a virus try the following:
- Rest and sleep as much as you can. Drink plenty of fluids.
- Allow your temperature to rise to engulf the virus, but not above 40 degrees C.
- Take simple pain killers if you need to.
- Avoid infecting everyone else.
- Mentally tell your immune system to go into action. Your first line of defence is by making fluids, phlegm, streaming nose. Your second line of defence is swollen glands. You might feel a sore throat swollen muscles leading to a stiff neck or aching calf muscles. Your third line of defence is the white blood cells. Lymphocytes, neutrophils, leukotrienes are examples. B lymphocytes are the troops sent in to engulf viruses and their larger cousins bacteria. T lymphocytes are the generals who remember the last campaign and send in the right troops. That is why some of the recent viruses have affected younger people. Older people have come across many of them before.
- Believe in yourself, listen to your body. Don’t eat comfort junk food. You will get better and stronger.