So, sad to say, the nights are drawing in. At this time of year, as the autumn mists begin to swirl of a morning, we have a single mantra: immunity, immunity, immunity. However healthy you are and however saintly your lifestyle and diet, you will be exposed to more bacteria and viruses over the coming months, so boosting your immunity is all-important. It’s well proven that as the weather turns at the change of seasons we’re all more prone to catching whatever bugs are doing the rounds. Here are some suggestions to help you not to succumb to those bacteria and viruses…

  1. Echinacea

This plant is well proven for boosting immunity – it’s an antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal.

In a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study* of 755 people conducted by the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University, it was found that adults taking three doses of Echinaforce echinacea daily for four months went down with fewer colds than those taking a placebo; were less likely to take pain-relieving medication if they did catch a cold; and suffered for far less time (with colds on average 26% shorter).

For anyone who’s susceptible to colds and flu (actually, snot full stop) and most particularly if you’re prone to chesty and respiratory problems, we supply Immune Boost, a blend of three herbs – echinacea, astragalus and sambucus – which is an immune booster on steroids.

Astragalus works in a similar way to echinacea, boosting our leucocytes (white blood cells, which are responsible for protecting against infectious disease and foreign invaders) and interferon (a protein we release to fight viruses). The Chinese add it to baby food for children prone to colds and coughs.

Sambucus (elderberry) has long been a folk remedy in north America, noted for its antioxidant (immune boosting) properties. Research in Germany reveals that anthocyanins (the purple pigment in the berry enhance immunity by producing cytokines, which act as messengers to alert cells to defend the body against disease. Anthocyanins possess way more antioxidant capacity than Vitamin C or E. 

  1. Olive leaf extract

This too is an antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal, and, though proof of its efficacy is a bit thin on the ground, we believe it’s an unsung hero, a super-supplement of the future. Trials at Queensland and Southern Cross Universities in Australia reveal it has double the antioxidant power of grapeseed extract and green tea extract, and is five times more powerful than Vitamin C.

  1. Antioxidants

Antioxidants inhibit oxidation, the trigger for production of free radicals – the rogue cells that are responsible for many diseases, inflammation, allergies and pain. Vitamin C is the best-known antioxidant. At first sign of a cold or infection, pack in several high doses in quick succession. We recommend 1,000mg twice daily to fend off a cold. The National Institutes of Health caution against taking more than 2,000mg per day as it can cause diarrhoea, nausea and stomach cramps, but short term you can exceed this amount to lick an infection.

Note: despite urban myths, fresh orange juice (high in Vitamin C) is not great for the snots. It actually helps produce mucus! Pack in kiwi fruit instead – they actually have a higher Vitamin C content.

As a preventive, especially for those who aren’t too hot on eating their veggies, we recommend Mistify, a berry juice blend with one of the highest antioxidant values in the world. One slug of it is equivalent to eating 3.5kg of fruit/veg!

  1. Essential fatty acids (fish oils)

These are a good all-round health tonic that feed depleted cells – in fact, something of a panacea in our view, especially for the over-50s. Particularly beneficial if you’re under stress, have heart problems or diabetes or take the Pill.

  1. Probiotics

Latest research, in the European Journal of Nutrition, shows that probiotics can reduce chances of catching colds by 12%. Most of us are working at below par because we have a proliferation of unhealthy bacteria in our gut that have taken over the healthy flora. So probiotics give you a shot of the healthy guys, which enable you to fight off infections better. For further information about how you can reset your micro biome (the bacteria in your gut) in preparation for winter, read our blog.

* Randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are the gold standard in medical research. Randomised: people are chosen at random to take either placebo (dummy pill) or the drug being tested. Placebo-controlled: the group are split into two, half taking placebo, the other half the drug. Double-blind: neither those administering the study nor those taking the drug know which group they are in.

 Read our blog to see how your children can benefit from taking probiotics.

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