If you’re like me, you’ll be anticipating the arrival of warm weather with hopeful desperation. After months of wet, cold and compromised immunity, we assume the sniffly season is behind us. The problem is that often, it just isn’t.
There is little more irritating than having made it through winter without a sniffle... and then: BANG! Along comes a warm and sunny May day and you come down with the mother of all colds.
Those around you may say it's all down to the sudden change in the weather, as if the weather takes personal pleasure in catching your immune system off guard.
So, how to go about preventing this from happening? These are the strategies that work for me.
Eat fermented foods
If you like sauerkraut, miso, kefir and their immune boosting relatives, add just a spoonful or two each day to your diet. Fermented foods encourage the growth of the 'good' bacteria in your gut, and when their levels are high, so are your immune levels, defending you from viral infections.
With sauerkraut, avoid shop-bought which is likely to have been pasteurised by heating and stuffed with sugar which will kill the bacteria off and make it generally unhealthy. Instead, make your own by grating raw cabbage and putting it in a jar to ferment with salt. I make my own and add a spoonful or two to salads at lunchtime.
I haven't had a cold or flu episode for two years now since I started eating more fermented foods. I love miso, and have it for lunch a couple of times a week. Coconut kefir is palatable too.
Spray with colloidal silver
My old favourite, from the days when I did get colds, is colloidal silver in a spray. As soon as I felt something the beginnings of symptoms, I would squirt a few sprays up my nose every three or four hours, and stop it in its tracks. Colloidal silver's ability to destroy even the bugs that are resistant to the strongest antibiotics has been repeatedly scientifically proven. In the 1980s, at UCLA medical school, Larry C. Ford, MD, documented over 650 different disease-causing pathogens that were destroyed in minutes when exposed to small amounts of silver.
Antibiotics do absolutely nothing for you if you have a viral infection - but colloidal silver covers all the bases. It works for sinusitis, colds, flu, bronchitis and even pneumonia. Use a spray, or even a nebuliser to get it deep into your lungs. Never use it for more than about 10 days in a row. Don't forget to supplement with a good probiotic, so you replace the bacteria it's destroying with bacteria that will boost your system.
Garlic for immunity
Garlic is a potent anti-viral, anti-fungal agent, and eating it raw, or as an uncooked puree alongside your normal food (add it to salad dressings) will wipe-out most miscreants. I did try this for a few weeks but the garlic seemed to ooze out of every pore, and although I couldn't smell a thing, those around me most definitely could. When my husband informed me that every time I opened my mouth, a cloud of garlic fumes emerged, I realised it was either my marriage or the garlic. Back to occasional outings in bolognese then....
Get your vitamin D levels checked
If you keep your Vitamin D levels high throughout the year it's also hard to get sick with the flu. Most of us, however, are low. Vitamin D (which your body turns straight into a hormone, by the way) is not something that can be made by the body. We get it in its natural form from sunlight on our skin, but living in Britain’s overcast land, there's not too much of that around for much of the year. Do you know what your Vitamin D level is? Or what it 'should' be? This may be one of the most important blood results you can ask for. In recent years, even the NHS will now screen for it, free of charge, since the latest research has flagged its importance in immune function. The Vitamin D council suggests that a level of 50 ng/ml is the perfect level to aim for, and they recommend we all supplement with 5,000 iu daily to stay there.
Vitamin D deficiency and absorption tests
It's actually easier said than done for some of us. I was surprised to find that despite spending plenty of time in the sun over the years, that my Vitamin D levels were extremely low. In fact, my test showed close to deficiency levels. This was about 5 years ago, and I supplemented faithfully afterwards, first with pills, and then with a liquid form. But, however much I took, my levels hardly shifted. I upped my dosage, but I seemed not to be synthesising it properly. This year, however, I found a different formula and within 4 weeks, my blood test showed levels of just over 80ng/ml. I kept this up through the winter, and again, no colds, no flu. DaVinci liquid D3 does it for me, but the moral of the tale is to keep trying different brands and having regular tests done to check your numbers.
Use aromatherapy oils
Many plant based oils help fight infection and colds. Cinnamon oil, oregano oil and eucalyptus oil are three of the best known remedies. Pour them onto a wad of cotton wool and inhale deeply. All can be used in a nebuliser too for respiratory relief. As a child, whenever I had flu, my mother always made me sit over a steaming bowl of hot water with eucalyptus oil. The Australian aborigines have used it to treat respiratory illness for centuries.
Olive leaf extract - a super-supplement
Last but not least, olive leaf extract has been shown to give a boost immunity. It has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing properties and 400% the anti-oxidants of Vitamin C. It knocks viruses on the head, and has been shown to be effective treating such hard nuts as herpes, hepatitis B, and swine flu as well as the common cold and hard to treat flu.