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FAQ - Frequent coughs and colds

By Jackie Newson BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy

Expert nutritionists share their frequently asked questions… 

Q - "My children seem to get endless coughs and colds throughout the winter months, which often get passed onto my husband and me. I wondered if there was anything we could all take as a family to avoid this annual inconvenience and what you might suggest?"

A - As with all things, prevention is better than cure! Therefore, supporting the immune system throughout the year will benefit you all during the winter months. Foods containing bioflavonoids, which are found in citrus fruits, berries, onions, parsley, legumes and green tea, as well as a number of herbs, provide excellent support for the immune system. However, it can sometimes be difficult to encourage young children to eat the range of nutrients they need to ward off colds and sniffles, so a liquid supplement containing a balance of bioflavonoids and some specific herbs may be useful.

For example, there are a number of culinary plants that have properties thought to help maintain strong healthy respiratory and digestive systems, especially during the winter months. Typical herbs used for their immune supporting effects are hibiscus, sage, rosemary, thyme and marjoram.

Hibiscus is often drunk as a tea and is known to support the upper respiratory tract, especially when excess mucus is a problem. It contains wonderful antioxidant compounds that help to protect our cells from free-radical damage. The bioflavanoids found in hibiscus are also particularly good at helping the body to absorb and utilise vitamin C, another nutrient known to support our immune health. Historically, sage has been used as a throat gargle and marries particularly well with thyme, which is used for the same purpose. At a time when cold sufferers invariably go off their food, marjoram is also thought to be a natural appetite stimulant. Rosemary has been used as an ancient remedy for many years. Sage, thyme, marjoram and rosemary are all wonderful, flavoursome herbs, but also have marvellous health-giving properties!

Other nutrients that support the immune system include vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc and beta carotene. Making sure you include a variety of colourful fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds in your diet should add to the immune-supporting effects of an all-round complex. In addition, dark berry fruits, such as blackcurrant, contain powerful compounds, which support the body’s natural defence mechanisms and also act as potent antioxidants.

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