Every year in clinic I see people who are having a bad run of constant infections and having difficulty recovering. Its not uncommon for children to have up to seven viruses a year but its not good when they are getting sick more frequently than their peers and having more time off. Today I want to focus on what you can do to build your resilience to infections.
First up its important to consider the basics, diet, sleep and exercise. Then its critical to look at what nutrient deficiencies may need to be addressed and to consider how these infections are treated and whether there are supplements or homeopathics which may help with treatment.
What are the critical basics with a good diet? Well ideally one that is tailored to you and your specific requirements but also one based on the following essentials;
- Six serves of vegetables a day minimum (3 cups) ideally at least one of which is green leafy vegetables, one coloured and a third made up of brassica vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts.
- One to two pieces of fruit.
- Adequate amounts of protein equivalent to 1g per kilo per day for maintenance. For example a 70kg female needs 70g of protein a day which is equivalent to 2 eggs, a small piece of chicken and a can of tuna. If you are training you may need to increase your protein requirements to allow for building muscle mass.
- A small handful of nuts ,and seeds (approx 10 almonds) which provide good fats and key minerals such as zinc.
- Adequate amounts of carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, bread and other grains. At least a couple of serves a day is needed by most people.
- Adequate hydration in the form of 1.5-2.0L of water or herbal tea a day.
Dietary changes usually take 4-6 weeks to really start providing benefits so it can be good to look at a few key nutrients to support your immune system as well.
First up look at simple nutrients like Vitamin C and Zinc. Vitamin C ideally dosed at 500mg two to three times a day will give your immune system more support. Often when you are unwell you can also go higher with doses of up to 1 g three to four times a day to assist in fighting off a cold or flu. Zinc is a key nutrient that is often deficient in people who are frequently ill and may be helpful in doses of up to 25mg a day.
Probiotics are often recommended particularly for those who have had frequent courses of antibiotics. Increasingly now I am recommending prebiotic foods or specific prebiotics such as Partially Hydrolysed Guar Gum (a type of resistant starch from a bean). The prebiotics support a wide range of beneficial bacteria in the gut. This can often be more helpful than a few specific strains of probiotics.
If you do develop another cold or flu my favourite herb is Elderberry and the product, Sambucol, which is available in pharmacy as lozenges or capsules can be useful for assisting in recovery. There are also specific homeopathic remedies which can assist which are covered in my blog on Treating Colds and Flu. Based on this year’s strains the remedies which should be considered are Arsenicum for gastric type flus and also Gelsemium for a more traditional presentation with fever, fatigue and aches and pains.
If you get really stuck and you have cold and flu symptoms I am available to do Zoom consultations as well. You can book in at Elemental Health on (02) 8084 0081 or online.