By Renae Leith
Cod Liver Oil:
Cod liver oil may be the best to avoid the flu this winter. Many studies have shown that the omega-3s, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), found in cod liver oil, support the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response and immunity, both of which help fight colds and the flu.
A 2004 study found a significant reduction in the mean number of upper respiratory tract infections in individuals who were supplemented with cod liver oil.
Garlic & Ginger
Research has shown the potential of garlic to support immune cell function, and combat the viruses responsible for colds and the flu. The results of one study in 2012 found that supplementation with aged garlic extract enhanced immune cell function, and thus may have been partially responsible for reduced severity of cold symptoms.
Ginger has also long been a popular natural remedy for colds and the flu. It has been reported that ginger or its extracts have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that are beneficial to the overall support of the immune system. One particular study found that the oil of ginger influences the immune response, and consequently may exert positive effects in a number of clinical conditions, including chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
There are a number of ways to incorporate garlic and ginger into your diet – they can be added to a chicken broth or soup, providing extra flavour as well as the stated health benefits. If garlic is administered on its own, it is best raw, chopped fresh into small slices, or dipped in olive oil and swallowed like a tablet. Ginger can be added alongside lemon and natural honey as a tasty, warm remedy during the winter months.
Zinc is a natural element that is a primary ingredient in many cold and flu remedies. Science suggests that zinc may reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms by inhibiting rhinovirus binding and replication in the nasal mucosa, thus suppressing inflammation.
Several studies that have examined the effect of zinc treatment on cold and flu symptoms have shown that zinc is beneficial under most circumstances. A 2008 study found that intake of zinc lozenges every 2-3 wakeful hours within 24 hours of developing a common cold significantly reduced the duration of cold symptoms, including cough, nasal discharge, and muscle aches.
A 2006 review of many of these zinc studies concluded that “zinc is beneficial in reducing the duration and severity of the common cold in healthy people, when taken within 24 hours of onset of symptoms”. Good quality zinc-containing remedies are recommended as soon as cold symptoms become evident.
Olive Leaf Extract:
Freshly-picked olive leaves have long been used for boosting the immune system and improving overall health. The olive leaf has been identified as the most powerful, free-radical scavenging antioxidant of 55 medicinal herbs, helping to protect the body from harmful free radical damage that may lead to illness.
Research in 2007 indicated olive leaf extract contains a broad spectrum of over 20 antioxidants, including Oleuropein, a polyphenol compound which has been proven to be one of the most powerful antioxidants because of the way it works in synergy with the other antioxidants found in olive leaves. Furthermore, olive leaf extract contains high concentrations of selenium, zinc, iron, vitamin C, and beta-carotene, all of which are important for optimal functioning of the immune system and good overall health.
Echinacea is a very popular herbal remedy that encourages the immune system and reduces many of the common symptoms of cold and flu. There are studies that suggest Echinacea works by strengthening the body’s resistance to illness through positive effects on the immune system.
Several studies have found that if Echinacea is given as soon as symptoms become evident, it may shorten the duration of colds and other respiratory infections. A 2003 study found an overall improvement in health-related quality of life over a 4-week period of Echinacea supplementation. In addition, research has found no adverse effects of treatment with Echinacea, therefore the safety profile of this herbal remedy appears favourable.
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