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Cold and Flu support

Immune | May 24, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

Immune, infection

Cold and Flu support

A viruses are  biological agent that reproduce inside the cells of living hosts. They are microorganisms that can reproduce at an amazing rate and are able to adapt to survive. It is because of this ability, we humans are always looking for ways of defending ourselves against these infective agents. 

Having a robust immune system can be the first line of defence. This can be achieved by employing a few lifestyle modifications such as getting adequate rest - meaning a good night sleep, taking time to experience enjoyable recreational activities that allow you to de-stress, and eating regular meals full of fresh ingredients.

How to support and rebuild a depleted immune system

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I getting enough sleep?
  • Am I taking time out for relaxation?
  • Am I eating a nutritious diet?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then that is where you need to start, because these are the basics to good immunity.

Natural therapies such as nutritional and herbal medicines can also help support your body in times of greater need such as seasonal changes, stressful situations or when your immune system is compromised.


Zinc is a mineral involved in many processes in the body, some of which supports our immunity. This includes: defence against oxidative stress, anti -viral activity, maintaining immune function and the absorption of B group vitamins. Deficiency can occur in times of stress and viral infection. Re-occurring infection or lack of recovery can be a sign the body requires more zinc.

Current evidence suggested there is benefit in taking zinc lozenges to reduce the duration of the common cold. [1] dosage was suggested at 75mg or above at the beginning of the illness. [2]

Food sources for zinc include beef, lamb, oysters, sea foods, egg yolks, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and whole grains.

Vitamin C

Your need for Vitamin C is increased in cold weather, when exercising and in infection amongst many other demands. Vitamin C helps improve immunity and its antioxidant capability help in the prevention of disease. If sick, vitamin C can help maintain the integrity of connective tissue (often damaged from nose blowing), and aids in wound healing.

Studies have found Vitamin C contributes to immune defence by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. It has the ability to kill pathogenic microbes and clears away the debris from infection. A deficiency of Vitamin C results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections. In turn, infections significantly impact on vitamin C levels due to enhanced inflammation and metabolic requirements. Furthermore, supplementation with vitamin C appears to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections.

Highest food sources include:

  • broccoli
  • brussels sprouts
  • citrus fruit
  • peppers
  • potatoe
  • sweet potatoes
  • raw cabbage
  • strawberries
  •  tomatoes

Vitamin C can be lost through heat and processing. 

Supplementation for the prevention of infection requires at least 100-200 mg/day, which optimizes cell and tissue levels. In established infections significantly higher amounts are needed due to increased inflammatory response and metabolic demand. [3]

Vitamin D

Observational studies have revealed a correlation with low blood levels of vitamin D and susceptibility to acute respiratory tract infection. Vitamin D is one of those nutrients in Australia that people commonly have a deficiency of due to avoiding sun exposure. Check with your health care provider if you need to supplement. [5]

Vitamin A

Increases resistance to infection, enhancing phagocytes, (bacteria absorbing cells) and antibody production, supports and maintains epithelial tissue and barrier mucosal barrier to infection. Cod liver oil supplements contain both vitamin A and D.

Sources are apricots, butter, carrots, egg yolk, cod liver oil, green leafy vegetables and sweet potatoes.

Vitamin B

B group vitamins are the workers in our body. They are the action guys and without them things don’t get done. You can have all the bricks but the house won’t get built without the workers. 

How to support and rebuild a depleted immune systemVitamin Bs are water soluble nutrients that need to be supplied to the body continuously.

We can get our b’s from leafy green vegetables and whole grains.

They are easily destroyed by oxygen and damaged in handling which is why we say to eat them fresh from the garden if you can – otherwise a supplement can make all the difference. Choose a B complex or Multi vitamin to get all your B's.


Taking  probiotics has been found to support immune function. Probiotics were found better than placebo in reducing the number of episodes of acute upper respiratory tract infections, the rate of episodes of acute upper respiratory tract infection and reducing antibiotic use. [4][6]


Echinacea is an amazing herb with immune building and supporting actions. It can be taken continuously throughout the season to help fight of those pesky viruses. Clinical data supports the use of echinacea in the treatment and prevention of upper respiratory infections, especially for those with compromised immunity. [7]
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ExerciseExercise but don’t over exercise as this can be a stress to the body, depleting your system and reducing your immune defences.  Ensure adequate nutrition to support full recovery after exercise

Nutritious diet

It is now established that undernutrition is associated with consistent changes in immune responses.

Support healthy immune response with adequate nutrition.

Include in your diet:


Whilst the B group vitamins are the workers, proteins are the building blocks, helping to restore and repair the immune system. Protein is involved in all structures of the body, this includes your immune system. Protein is found in meat, fish, poultry, eggs and combinations of grains, nuts and seeds. Some seeds are whole proteins, such as soy and quinoa, but most are part protein so it is good to combine your wholegrain bread with your peanut butter etc. For those that struggle with eating protein, a protein shake can make all the difference. These come as whey (from dairy), soy, hemp and pea based as a few examples.

Fresh fruit and vegetables to supply carbohydrates, vitamins and mineral and antioxidants for a healthy body. [8]
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Medical Definition of Virus

Osiecki H, The Nutrient Bible 9th Edition, AG Publishing, QLD, Australia

[1] Zinc acetate lozenges for treating the common cold: an individual patient data meta-analysis.

[2] Zinc for the common cold.

[3] Vitamin C and Immune Function.

[4] Prevention and Treatment of Influenza, Influenza-Like Illness, and Common Cold by Herbal, Complementary, and Natural Therapies

[5] Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data

[6] Probiotics and immune health

[7]Mills, S. & Bone, K. (2000). Principles and practice of phytotherapy: Modern herbal medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Australia

[8] 7Nutrition and Immune Responses: What Do We Know?

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