Boost your immunity and be well all winter with our expert advice
We all want to avoid germs and keep the bugs at bay during the cold months, but sometimes it feels like you’re just putting off the inevitable. Whilst some people never seem to get ill, others are struck down every year with the same bugs. Wondering why? We’ve got the lowdown from the experts on what you need to know to stay healthy.
Dr Deepa Apté, Indian medical doctor and ayurvedic practitioner, believes ayurvedic remedies are a great way to analyse why we get struck down with particular bugs. “According to Ayurveda, the reason some people can be prone to certain illnesses is due to them having a weak digestive fire, which in turn results in the formation of toxins in the body weakening the immune system and leading to recurrent illnesses. People tend to suffer from similar recurrent illnesses because of their body types and imbalances based on their particular dosha. For example, someone with a vata-related body type will have more tendencies towards asthmatic attacks, as well as digestive illnesses like constipation, IBS and insomnia, anxiety, nervousness or bone-related conditions. This is due to the fact that vata is an air-dominant energy and such people will experience illnesses that have a quality of lightness, dryness, restlessness and movement. Pitta body types may be prone to illnesses like acidity, ulcers, hay fever, inflammation, acne, migraines or stress because pitta is fire and these illnesses present with excess heat or inflammation. A kapha-related body type has a tendency towards conditions like weight gain, obesity, sinus congestion, sore throat, diabetes, cholesterol or water retention. This is due to the fact that kapha is water and earth-related so all illnesses will present symptoms of heaviness, dampness and tiredness.”
With that in mind, we’ve gathered together some experts on the common illnesses we are most likely to get struck down with in winter and discovered what symptoms we need to be watching for, how to avoid them and any DIY remedies we can try to avoid the dreaded queue for the GP’s office…
Marvin Munzu, leading pharmacist at jakemans.com, tells us: “Chest infections are mainly caused by bacteria or viruses which are prevalent in our atmosphere. Most infections that affect the lungs and large airways are mild and will clear up on their own – they could last from a few days to up to three weeks. The symptoms include a chesty cough, yellow and green mucus, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain and a fever above 38˚C. Some bacterial and viral infections experienced by vulnerable people such as elderly, pregnant or immunocompromised patients who suffer from organ dysfunctions could have more severe symptoms and cause life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia. ”
Marvin’s DIY Remedies
During winter, we are much more at risk of shingles as our immune systems are lower. Dr Amy Bibby, head of operations at qured.com, explains further: “Shingles is a reactivation of the VZV virus, which lays dormant in nerve cells and can be reactivated in times of stress and immune suppression as people age. You can only have shingles once you have been infected with the VZV that causes chickenpox. This typically happens during childhood, whereas shingles is most common in people older than 50, and the risk increases with age. Shingles appears as a rash, red blotches on your skin, and only on one side of your body. The blotches become itchy blisters filled with fluid and eventually dry out and scab over a few days later. Shingles can be extremely painful until the rash is completely gone and can also make your eyes red and sore, affect your sight or hearing, and make it difficult to move one side of your face. The best way to ward off shingles is to avoid those who have been affected by the VZV. You cannot get shingles from someone with shingles or chickenpox, but you can get chickenpox from someone with shingles if you haven’t had chickenpox before.”
Dr Amy’s DIY Remedies:
Dr Riccardo Di Cuffa, director and GP at your-doctor.co.uk, tells us: “The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by totally different viruses, with flu symptoms generally being much worse than a common cold. You can catch either type of virus via tiny droplets in the air when someone sneezes, coughs, or blows their nose. The best way to protect yourself against viruses is to try and make your immune system as hardy and strong as possible through good lifestyle choices, and to get the flu vaccination each year. Symptoms vary from person to person but, if you have a cold, you may sneeze a lot, have a runny or stuffy nose, a sore throat and a cough. Your body may ache a little bit and you could have a headache, low-grade fever and might generally feel unwell. In comparison, if you have the flu, you may have some or all of the above but, in addition have a fever, the chills, feel extremely tired and your muscles may ache and you could experience vomiting or diarrhoea, although this is not as common.
Dr Riccardo’s DIY Remedies:
Dr Sarah Myhill, author of The Infection Game (£14.99, Hammersmith Books), explains: “The stomach should be an acid bath into which bugs descend and are killed by such. Anything that upsets this acid bath makes us susceptible to infection. The main offender is junk food, high in sugar and carbs. This overwhelms our ability to digest and feeds microbes, resulting in a fermenting upper gut. These fermenting microbes cause a low grade inflammation of the stomach wall and with this comes leaky gut – which means acid cannot be concentrated properly because it leaks out as fast as it is generated. We then have a lethal cocktail of sugar which feeds bugs and the absence of acid to kill. An acute infection results in the symptoms of nausea, vomiting, colic and diarrhoea. Chronic low grade infection (such as H Pylori) gives us the classical symptoms of upper fermenting gut with reflux, oesophagitis, bloating and indigestion. To avoid, starve the bugs out with a paleo-ketogenic, low carb diet. This restores normal stomach function, and the acid bath returns to kill the incumbents as well as the visitors.”
Dr Sarah’s DIY Remedy:
Save over £11
when you subscribe today
Exclusive prizes from our Heaven Skincare, Senspa, Green People and more...