Dealing with colds and flu, and how to build The Immune system
It is that time of the year, where everyone is splattering and sniffing all around you. And you just hope you don’t get sick! But most of the time we do, and it effects us all differently depending on the strength of our immune system and the amount of stress in our daily lives. In this post I talk about what compromises our immune system , how to build it up and natural ways to beat a common cold, coughs and fevers.
The immune system
The development of the immune system begins in early pregnancy and continues into the first few months of life. The lack of essential nutrients, for whatever reason, during this very important time of growth has a huge effect on the baby’s immune system. Small and low birth-weight full-term babies generally have a greatly reduced resistance to infection. This will have a serious effect on the baby’s potential for growth and normal development. In these children the under developed immune system may continue for several months or even years. But, we can build them up again! Research by many leading nutritional scientists and pediatricians have shown that an increase in the number immune fighter cells (T-cells) occurs as early as 5-15 days after an improvement in the diet. 2000 new T-cells are produced every second by a healthy immune system.
Most people will notice a large improvement in their health within 15-21 days when improving their diet and lifestyle!
What leads to a compromised immunity?
One of the factors that contribute to compromising your immunity is incomplete digestion. This is usually in people who often consume fried and processed foods which are difficult to digest. This can also occur in a young child that is fed starched to early, before the body has the ability to digest them properly. (More information on this in the book “Healthy Kids- Mary ann Shearer).
To avoid incomplete digestion and its negative impact on your health and immunity you can follow food combining. Properly combined meals are fully digested, allowing optimal use of nutrients But when our food is not broken down well, particles may find their way into the bloodstream, causing an antibody reaction. This can then result in food intolerances and allergies. See more information here.
Bacterial and Viral overload
A diet that is high in refined carbohydrates causes the blood sugar to fluctuate, this results in certain white blood cells not doing their job properly. Their main function is to destroy viruses and bacteria, and is then able to provide an important defense against infection. When these bacteria and viruses quickly increase in numbers they overload the system, and the body of course needs to react. We then experience excess mucus production, coughs, colds, runny noses and fevers.
High Chemical Exposure
Environmental pollutants negatively impact the body’s ability to fight off infection. We are exposed to many sources of dangerous chemicals like lead from car fumes, glues and paints used in our homes, amalgam dental fillings, and pesticide residues-in our water and food. Most heavy metals like lead and mercury weaken immunity and can contribute to an increase in illness.
Try eating as much organic food as possible, getting fresh air in nature away from busy roads and cities, and drinking clean spring water. For most of us, it can be impossible to avoid these, but what is possible is to eat a diet that is high in Vitamin C and Chlorophyll as this will help the body deal with these pollutants(free radicals) and will help prevent them from suppressing the immune system.
Great sources of Vitamin C is fresh fruit and vegetables, and chlorophyll is found in all dark green leafy vegetables. If you battle to find organic greens or to get enough in your diet a great alternative is a good quality green powder like Barley Grass.
Lack of essential Fatty Acids
A deficiency in prostaglandins (Prostaglandins are made from essential fatty acids found in plant fats) can lead to a breakdown in the immune system, resulting in asthma, hay fever, sinusitis, candida albicans, and eczema. It is so helpful to add some of these into your diet on a daily basis.
- Hemp seeds
- Chia seeds
- Flax oil or seeds
The mind and the Immune system
Psycho-Neuro Immunology looks at the effect that the mind has on our immune systems and thereby our health. It has been a well-documented fact that happy people are healthy people!
An unhappy or insecure adult or child is more prone to infections and disease. A healthy diet along with a good dollop of love, security, discipline and open communication will go a long way to boosting you and your child’s immunity. Not to say that if you get sick you are unhappy in your life! We all get a cold or flu at some point when it is doing its rounds, and we may have a bit of stress going on in our life. But if we have already been feeding our bodies well and managing our stress with Yoga, walks etc, our bodies will handle these viruses and bacteria better and get well sooner.
This is a large subject and I encourage you to read more on how your attitude and belief system can affect your health. A great resource is Louise L Hay.
Temperature and fevers
What is a high temperature? This indicates that the body is purposefully and actively destroying harmful viruses and bacteria by heating up a little.
When we interfere with this very important process by trying to force the temperature down (cool sponging and drugs) it actually prevents the body from healing itself. So if you have a temperature, its a blessing!
The process of a fever works like this: When an infection develops your body will respond by making extra white blood cells (called Leucocytes).The function of these white blood cells is to destroy bacteria and viruses, and to remove irritating materials and damaged tissue from the body. The activity of these white blood cells is increased as they move faster to the site of infection. This results in a raised temperature and that in turn causes a fever. So this rise in your body temperature indicates that the process of healing is speeding up and is something to celebrate not fear.
When the temperature is elevated iron is removed from the blood and stored in the liver. This happens in order to reduce the rate at which bacteria multiply. This explains why slight anemia is quite normal in a child who has been ill, and is the reason why people look pale when they are not well. If you and/or your child are following a healthy lifestyle and natural diet the body should correct this anemia within two to three weeks.
What should you do about fevers? Don’t force feed yourself or your child, it s quite normal to lose your appetite when you are not well. And there seems to be this fear that if we don’t eat when we are sick its a terrible thing so we force ourselves or kids to get something down. This is the body’s way of redirecting energy away from the stomach to the source of trouble where it is needed most. Freshly extracted juices are best as they provide you with concentrated nutrients and keep you hydrated. Another option is smoothies with fresh fruit and spring water. When your appetite come back reintroduce the natural foods such as fresh fruit then slowly adding cooked vegetables and unprocessed starches like brown rice and baked potatoes.
* I your temperature has not subsided within 24 hours or if it is accompanied by severe pain. Breathing problems, delirium or any symptom that causes concern, call your doctor.
If you are having regular headaches and your doctor can find no physical problem as a source, then having a look at your diet is needed. Firstly remove all processed foods, sweetened, preserved and coloured foods from your diet and also eliminating foods containing caffeine such as coffee chocolates and cold drinks. If you continue having headaches try removing dairy products and wheat. The occasional headache can be caused by a foreign or toxic food maybe eaten at a restaurant, or just by emotional stress. Best to rest the system and rest in bed. Drink fresh juices, spring water. A gentle neck and head massage can also help relieve this.
Coughs, Colds, Runny noses, Ear infections and Tonsillitis
Anytime we have extra mucous in any part of the body in can be traced back to either dairy or gluten/wheat intolerance, or a reaction to a preservative or food additive. You can eliminate this problem completely if you remove these foods from yours or your child’s diet.
How to deal with excess mucous
– Remove all dairy products from the diet, or from the mother if breastfeeding. (see my post here on Dairy)
-Increase yours or your child’s fruit intake by including delicious smoothies and fresh juices.
-Remove foods containing wheat, rye, oats, and barley. Rather eat Potatoes, polenta, rice gluten free pasta and breads. If you eat meat remove meat until the mucous problem has cleared up.
– If you are having difficulty breathing through your nose, then having a good steaming is going to be a huge help. Fill a bowl with boiling water and cover your head with a large towel to capture the steam and stay here for at least 10 minutes. Adding some essential oils can be helpful, I personally like Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Lavender. Tea Tree.
You can also use a humidifier at night in the bedroom and add essential oils to your bath.
Sore throats, mouth ulcers or sore gums
Using the steps above for mucous problems as well as gargling with a mixture of cold pressed flax oil and carrot juice will help with this. Stay on freshly extracted juices, if there is sensitivity in the mouth or throat avoid acid fruit and juices like orange or pineapple. You could try carrot, apple and ginger for example.
Keep yourself healthy all year round by following a natural plant based diet with an abundance of fruit and vegetables. Avoiding refined foods, alcohol and caffeine. You can subscribe to my blog and get updates on healthy recipes and more useful information to keep your family thriving!
How to cope with common colds and flus naturally.
Keeping it simple when you are not well is my advice , make sure you are getting a lot of rest, the more you can sleep the better! As soon as you start feeling sick jump in bed and stay there, get your partner to care for you for the next few days (: Sleep accelerates the healing process. Consume lots of freshly extracted vegetable and fruit juices and spring water,getting enough fluids in. You will see yourself get well much quicker!
Ingredients: *Us Organic where possible
Knob of Ginger
Knob of fresh Turmeric (optional)
Source- Mary Ann Shearer – The natural way course