Five ways to beat the winter blues and stay healthy

elderberries
Elderberries can help ward off those pesky flu-like symptoms.

On average, adults suffer through two to four colds every year, usually in winter. However, there are some simple ways to help prevent catching a cold, or at the very least, shorten the duration of your illness, says Eagle Natural Health Advisor and nutritionist and naturopath Teresa Mitchell-Paterson.

Here are her top tips for staying healthier in winter.

Vitamin Bs

This group of eight vitamins are essential to the foundation of your health, as they help to support healthy blood formation, which helps it function efficiently and correctly. They also assist in transforming food into energy, so that your body metabolises nutrients in the right way. If you’re continually feeling run down or getting every cold going, then include a daily dose of a vitamin B complex alongside your morning meal. I like the Tresos Activated B PluSe Upgrade.

Vitamin C

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We’re all used to taking a couple of vitamin C tablets at the first sign of a tickly throat or a runny nose, but what do they actually do? While the jury is still out on whether vitamin C prevents or treats colds, research does show that it can reduce the duration of symptoms by up to eight per cent in adults. Ensuring your diet is rich in vitamin C (think oranges, peppers, kiwi fruit), as well as taking a daily vitamin C supplement can help safeguard you against future ill health by supporting your general immunity.

Elderberry

Elderberry has been used for many years to help fight flu, colds and viruses. One study of people aged 18-54 who were suffering from flu-like symptoms, took 15ml of a syrup containing elderberry extract four times a day, for five days. Their symptoms were relieved on average, four days before those who didn’t take the elderberry extract. There’s some evidence to also suggest that elderflower and berries may contain properties which help reduce swelling in the mucous membranes, sinuses and help with nasal congestion.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants help your body to fight free radicals, which are caused by an insufficient diet, pollution, stress, smoking and alcohol. Luckily, you can add antioxidants to your diet, through green, leafy vegetables, and fruits such as berries. Some of the most potent antioxidants you can incorporate into your healthy lifestyle include grapeseed, resveratrol, curcuma and green tea.

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Zinc

When cold and flu symptoms are spreading, it can feel like you’re defenceless against germs. One mineral, zinc, found in fortified breakfast cereals, beef, chicken, oysters and crab, is believed to help stop cold symptoms and reduce the length of your cold. The research found that you need to take zinc within 24 hours of the onset of cold and flu symptoms, so take one when you start feeling under the weather.

Ask your health professional what supplements are right for you. Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet. Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional.

Have you battled a cold or the flu this year? How do you fight a cold? Medication or all-natural?