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Doing it nature’s way

Naturopath and nutritional therapist Sara Gatt recommends the natural therapies we should all adopt to keep us outdoors and enjoying the winter’s crisp air, rather than being housebound due to colds and flu.

Colds come on at any time of the year but they are most common during late autumn and winter. With the festive season over, chances of a weakened immune system due to overindulgence and a break from our regular exercise regime, our susceptibility to catching colds is even greater.

To begin with, we ask: what distinguishes the common cold from the flu?

For adults, the presence of body aches and a fever usually indicates the flu, although a low-grade fever can sometimes exist alongside a cold. Children, on the other hand, may experience fevers as a normal part of a cold.

Typical cold symptoms, however, which are your immune system’s attempt to flush out the virus, are congestion, sneezing, coughing, sore throat and a general feeling of malaise.

Here are a few tips we should all adopt to keep us outdoors and enjoying the crisp air and winter days rather than being housebound.

The first step is to create a balanced lifestyle and opt for the right food choices. In so doing, we help to strengthen our immune system.

Lifestyle factors such as stress and a sugar-ridden diet are key factors to a weakened immune system, so reducing both increases your chances of remaining cold free throughout the winter.

When we do catch a cold, however, the best ­treatment is to stimulate our body’s natural defences as soon as the symptoms first appear.

There are a number of natural therapies that have direct antiviral activity as well as stimulate our immune system to fight off infection and reduce the duration of the cold.

Here are a few recommendations:

• From vitamin C and zinc to garlic, propolis and echinacea, we will be well on our way to fighting any cold we may have picked up. Dosages and taking supplements for the recommended amount of time are key factors in ridding the body of the virus altogether.

• Additionally, by eating lightly and focusing on steamed vegetables, soups, broths, chicken and fish and staying well hydrated we stand a better chance of a speedy ­recovery.

• Never underestimate the power of traditional remedies, not least the cold remedy. Be sure to indulge in a mug of hot water with lemon, honey and cinnamon. A mugful every two hours will work a treat for soothing your throat and chest.

Where problems persist, a closer look at the individual, their past ­medical history, diet and lifestyle can be assessed, whereupon dietary and supplement advice can be tailor-made to the specific needs of the individual.

Things to do if you have a cold or influenza

• Keep well hydrated
• Use a humidifier to stop central heating drying out the mucous membranes lining your nose and upper airways
• Treat nasal congestion using vapour rubs or taking decongestant drugs
• Take simple analgesia
• Cough mixtures may help
• Try anaesthetic throat lozenges or gargle with salt water for a sore throat
• Anti-histamines may reduce the runny nose and sneezing
• Get plenty of rest and eat a healthy diet

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