Building a strong immune system

Strong immune system will help your body to ward off infections such as colds and cold sores, gut infections and cystitis, your natural immunity may be lowered as a result of viruses, stress or other illnesses, or simply when you are chronically tired. With our hectic schedules it tempting to battle on, but if you don’t take your body seriously, problems won’t disappear It’s well worth building up your immune stem so that it is ready to fight infections, help you recover as quickly as possible, and above all, stay well. Throughout this chapter I refer primarily to the common cold, but the advice applies equally to many other infections. First, here are some general guidelines:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet, including fresh fruits, vegetables and pulses, wholegrains, lean protein, dairy products and water. See the chapter on Understanding your nutritional needs for details.
  • Avoid eating foods that are well past their use by dates. Start and cook foods according to food safety recommendations It astatines me that people can eat food that is just going off, I know they don’t want to waste it, but if they stopped to think that they are potentially introducing toxic bacteria into their body, severely challenging their immune system, they wouldn’t count the cost in a few pence.

Get enough sleep – ideally seven to eight hours a night. Sleep requirements vary and it’s not just quantity of sleep that counts. If you manage to get to bead Carly you are more likely to have the most therapeutic type of sleep.

Try to reduce the amount of stress in your life. Stress adversely affects the immune system, no it is important to allow yourself regular de-stressing times. For you, this could mean reading a good book or having a massage. Think of your body as an engine which needs regular servicing, as well as the correct fuel. The benefits of boosting your nutritional status

are greatly reduced if you are stressed or emotionally run down. • Take regular exercise. Exercise helps to keep a healthy supply of oxygen in the body, which maintains a strong immune system. Outdoor exercise provides an opportunity for your lungs to breathe fresh air, rather than the stale air in offices and centrally heated buildings. Harmful bacteria don’t thrive in fresh air, outdoor exercise cleans out’ your airways and help keep you healthy.

Stop smoking, as this damages your lings and reduces your ability to fight infections.

• Avoid contact with people who have colds and infections. If a friend has a cold, encourage them to stay at home. Infections wouldn’t spread if we all did this. If you have a cold, keep it to yourself.

• Take time to recover from any illness You are much more likely to peek further infections if you are ‘below par”,

 Foods to help prevent the common cold

The common cold plagues us all at sone time during the year. It can be caused by one of more than 200 viruses, the symptoms and severity of which vary from one individual to another. Sometimes the virus simply gives you a congested or runny nose and a sore throat. Other viruses affect the lungs, causing bronchitis, or the larynx, giving you laryngitis. It is important to take action as soon as you feel you are getting a cold.

If you let it go on unrested, you could develop a secondary bacterial infection which may attack the ears, lungs or throat. Once bacteria become involved, antibiotics may be necessary to clear up the infection Essentially there is no cure for the common cold, you just need to manage and alleviate the symptoms and give your body the rest it needs to concentrate its efforts on fighting the infections.

There are two issues to address with the common cold how to stop yourself from catching it and how to get rid of it. Nutritionally, the plan is to make sure that you have a strong immune system to withstand any viral or bacterial attacks. Many people believe that large doses of statin C can prevent or cure the common cold. Although vitamin C does have profound effect on the immune system, there are other nutrients to consider. Beta-carotene, vitamin E the B vitamins, selenium, zinc, magnesium and iron each play an important role.

Remember that you need to maintain a balance of vitamins and minerals: too much of a single nutrient can hinder the absorption and beneficial effects of other nutrients. This was demonstrated in a study of the effects of beta-carotene and lung cancer in the United States in 1996. Too much beta-carotene seemed to knock the other vitamins and minerals of their therapeutic stations. It is better to get a good, balanced, vitamin and mineral intake from foods rather than supplements.


This vitamin has the potential to prevent and also reduce the severity of the common cold. Some people believe that 1000 mg of vitamin C taken every day can prevent a cold. Others, including Nobel prize-winning scientist Linus Pauling, suggest that we take up to 5000 mg a day.

1 don’t feel that it is worthwhile to take such large doses, as vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, so the body excretes the excess. Large doses can irritate the gut and many people find it impossible to take more than 1000 mg a day without suffering from side effects such as indigestionand bloating.

I have also scanned some people with mouth ulcers chased by taking too much vitamin C (also known ascorbic acid). The mouth is an alkaline area, if you chow lots of vitamin Tallies the alkali tie balance is disturbed and ulcers can develop. However, this usually only occurs with does in excess of 3000 mg a day.

Rather than buying a supplement, I suggest that you cat plenty of foods rich in vitamin C fresh citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, clementine’s and mandarins), kiwi fruits, strawberries, blackcurrants and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, Savoy cabbage and broccoli. Potatoes cooked in their skins, such as baked or boiled new potatoes are another good source. Vitamin C begins to be lost from fruit and vegetables as soon as they are picked, and many people question how much vitamin C present in foods by the time we get around to eating them.

Tests have shown that, while a freshly picked orange contains about 150 mg of vitamin G thug oranges in supermarkets vary between 115 mg and a mere trace. Obviously, the fresher vegetables and fruits you can buy the better. Don’t leave fruit in the fruit bowl for days. Fresh fruit shakes or freshly squeezed orange juice can provide a sub- spatial amount of vitamin C Eating fruits and vegetables in season will help you glean the maximum amount of this vitamin, and remember that frozen vegetables can have more vitamin C than fresh ones.

Since vitamin C is water-soluble, you will lose a lot if you boil or soak vegetables for a long time, keep cooking time down to a minimum, and try steaming, stir-frying or baking vegetables, rather than boiling them until soggy If you eat five portions of fresh fruits and vegetables every day, your vitamin intake should be high enough to prevent a cold. However, if you can’t manage this, or feel you need an extra boost, I suggest you take a supplement of between 1000 and 1500 mg a day. Take it as three 500 mg tablets throughout the day, with food and a glass of water, to avoid any potential irritant effect. It’s no good taking vitamin supplements with caffeine-containing drinks such as coffee, tea or cola, as the caffeine and tannins inhibit the absorption of nutrients.


Zinc plays a fundamental role in maintaining a healthy immune system. If you are deficient in zinc you are much more likely both to catch a cold and to suffer for longer. You should therefore ensure that your zinc status is good by including rich sources of zinc in your everyday eating plan. The best dietary sources of zinc are shellfish (especially oysters), lean meat such as lamb, beef and turkey, wholegrain products, and nuts and seeds for further sources). If you eat a well-balanced diet, your zinc intake should be sufficient to prevent colds, but if you feel you want to take a supplement, I suggest you take 15 mg a day. It is very important that you don’t take more than this. Bear mind that when you have a viral cold, the body automatically lowers its blood zinc levels, as high zine levels can make you more prone to bacterial infections.


MAGNESIUM has also been linked with developing a strong immune system. I do recommend that you take supplement, but rather make sure that your magnesium-rich foods, especially green leafy vegetables. Other include nuts and seeds (including hummus, made from What to do if you get a cold or other infection •

Rest and keep Don’t exercise Gentle walking in the fresh air can help keep you healthy, but you should not exercise or play strenuous games, as this can damage the muscles and aggravate your symptoms. Encourage your child to play gently and not to go running Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice about medication to relieve your symptoms. You may need a decongestant, throat syrup, aspirin or paracetamol to reduce fever, but be careful not to take too many different drugs, as there is sometimes a danger of overdose.

My grandmother’s honey and lemon drink relieves sore throats you don’t always need chemical Try to keep to a well-balanced diet. If you don’t feel like eating much, be that you need a day of plain food such as potato soup pasta Fruit shakes and vegetable soups can be useful in keeping up your intake of vitamins and minerals. • When your senses of smell and taste are badly affected, stimulate them with strong tasting or mildly spicy foods. Think of tangy sheep’s milk cheeses, lemons and limes, ginger and lemon grass, or even curries.

• Drink at least two and a half liters/four to five pints of water day. If you have a high temperature, you should drink more than this, as you will lose water through sweating. You could have it cold or hot, with honey and

• Some people find a warm alcoholic drink, the traditional hot can give a of relief to cold symptoms. If you are taking antibiotics, check with your doctor that it is appropriate for you to take alcohol. Remember that fine, but excess alcohol can adversely affect your immune Antibiotics There is a great deal of concern over the suggestion that overuse of antibiotics can lead to resistance.

So far, there is evidence to support this, as long as antibiotics are administered appropriately: if the right antibiotic taken and the of medication is completed. Remember that can cure only bacterial infections. Taking an antibiotic for viral such as cold is useless, all it will do is side effects such and expose your gut to possible fungal infectionsMany people go to extremes when it comes to antibiotics, either they reach for the antibiotics at the first sign of an infection,

without giving their body chance to fight it naturally with weapons such as good nutrition and rest or they refuse antibiotics and expect their body to be able to fight bacterial infections alone. There are dangers with both attitudes If you take antibiotics without having had a bacterial culture grown, from a swab of your throat, or a sputum or stool sample, you may take the wrong anti biotic.

While a broad-spectrum antibiotic such av Amoxil may kill some of the bacteria around the infection, you may develop a lord core of bacteria which will then need to be “zapped’ with a specific antibiotic Using broad spectrum antibiotics or the wrong antibiotic can lead to serious complications, as you can believe you are treating the bug. but in fact, the infection is spreading, which may necessitate emergency treatment The alternative approach, refusing to take antibiotics when there is a clearly diagnosed bacterial infection, can expose you to secondary and serious comply cations.

Food can do a lot to help fight infections, both viral and bacterial, but antibiotics are necessary on occasions. Bacterial infections such as meningitis can kill; antibiotics it used correctly save lives, It is also very important that once you start a course of antibiotics, your com plate the course and don’t stop the moment you start feeling better. Although you may feel better there may still be some bacteria around which need killing.

If you need another course of antibiotics, the antibiotic level in your body builds o with each successive course and resistance to the antibiotic is much more up likely to occur. Therefore, the antibiotic may not be as effective on a future occasion. If you do not experience any relief, consult your doctor, as he or she may be able to change to a more suitable dose or type. Nutritionally, overuse of inappropriate antibiotics can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, partly as a result of a change in their absorption from the gut, partly from other side effects.

Certain antibiotics can make you feel slightly nauseous, which can put you off your food at a time when your body desperately needs nutrients to fight infections. Secondly, antibiotics can adversely affect the flora inside your gut. The balance of good and bad flora can change and many people develop yeast and bacterial infections in the lower bowel, mouth or vagina. These infections can manifest themselves as thrush and cystitis.

Some people may also develop diarrhea or constipation. Even if you are taking antibiotics, make sure you are eating well, taking into consideration symptoms such as diarrhea and nausea. Try to eat a small pot of live yoghurt containing bifid us and acidophilus every day. This will help keep your gut flora healthy. You could eat it plain, top it with fruit, or use it in cooking.