Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

Avoiding Colds and Flu

At this time of the year they're just around the corner but with a little help from nature and the alternative medicine man, Michael van Straten, you can avoid them, treat them and get over them sooner.

The flu's coming, it might be Asian or even bird flu, but the truth is that the experts don't know yet ......

It happens every winter the clocks go back, the days get darker, the weather gets worse and everyone gets a cold or flu. But it doesn't have to be like that. This simple plan will boost your body's natural defences and help it fight off the invading bugs, bring the sunshine back into your emotional life and help you face the winter with a smile.

Follow this five step plan which will help you avoid infections and reach next spring feeling fitter and better than you ever have before.

1. Avoiding the bugs

One of the best ways to avoid colds and flu is to wash your hands frequently as anyone with these infections will leave viruses on doorknobs, telephones, keyboards, toilet handles, and anything else they touch. The bugs get on your hands and then into your mouth by touching or from food. Disinfect surfaces which are touched frequently by other people 25 drops of Tea tree oil in a 250 ml spray bottle of water is ideal. Try to avoid rush hour travel and keep out of hot crowded stores.

Always cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing.

2. Eat to beat the bugs

To ensure maximum resistance you must supplement your diet with the winter superfoods that are extra-rich sources of the natural protection you need.

Get adequate vitamins A and C by eating foods with both. Apricots, grapes, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, melon, apples, pineapple and nectarines, should top the list. Eat at least two different ones daily.

Add beetroot, broccoli, Brussels, red, green and white cabbage (raw and cooked), carrots, red, green and yellow peppers, onions, leeks and garlic. The coloured veg contain protective carotenoids and all the onion family are powerful destroyers of bacteria and viruses.

A good mixed diet, with some cheese, live yogurt and Yakult (for immune boosting bacteria), meat, poultry, beans, whole grains, oily fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits and veg, and you'll be on the right track to beat off winter bugs.

Sprouted seeds are the most live, pure and nutritious foods imaginable. Nothing could be fresher than harvesting your own, just before meal time. They are so easy to grow - your local health store will have the seeds and instructions - you don't even need a window box. They supply a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals and natural plant enzymes.

3. Soup

Now is the time for those wonderful home made soups. Lots of root vegetables, onions, leeks, celery, green veg, yeast extract and plenty of herbs and garlic. Add extra beans, lentils or barley for winter-plus nutrition. It is absolutely true that real home made chicken soup using chicken meat and bones helps protect against viruses, especially those causing flu and colds. Packets, cubes and cans do not work!


Chicken soup is nourishing, healing, restorative and much more than old wives tales and folk lore. Modern science proves its worth. The soup contains a sulphur compound called Cystine, which protects against infections of the throat, sinuses and chest.

Cystine helps by thinning mucous in the nose and lungs, making it much easier for the body to get rid of. It's good for asthma too. Protein in the soup is very easy to absorb making so it's a perfect food if you are recovering from illness.

Anyone with poor immunity, chronic fatigue or exhaustion can also benefit from the vitamin and mineral content of chicken soup. As a bonus, extra benefits come from using traditional herbs and spices like garlic, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary and pepper which are medicinal A bowl provides 50% of a day's protein, 25% of potassium, 20% of selenium and 30% of vit B6. Don't wait till you're ill to enjoy it.

This recipe is cheap, easy and better than any ready made soup. Use leftover roast chicken, or a small fresh chicken cut in joints.

A large chopped onion, 2 sliced carrots, 1 sliced leek, 3 chopped garlic cloves, 1 tbsp olive oil, and 3 pints water.1 bay leaf, a sprig each of thyme, rosemary and marjoram, ground black pepper and 1 heaped tbsp of thoroughly washed pot barley.

Heat the oil, add onion, carrot, leek and garlic, stir till soft. Add everything else, bring to boil and simmer for 90 mins, skim off fat. Remove bones and serve with a chunk of wholemeal bread. If very fatty, refrigerate overnight and remove solid fat before reheating.

Half an hour's work then left to cook itself - ten portions for less than the cost of a prescription. Is there better value for money?

4. Essential Exercise

Exercise is an essential part of the system that boosts your immunity but it's a problem as the days get shorter when a night in front of the TV is more appealing than the gym, swimming pool or a jog around the park. Although it's the most convenient and effective form of exercise, most people walk even less at this time of the year. Physical activity stimulates circulation, boosts immunity and produces mood enhancing chemicals in the brain so get 20 minutes a day.

5. Flu Beating Supplements

Echinaboost from MedicHerb the immune boosting herb Echinacea, with added liquorice, eucalyptus and other essential oils, helps prevent and relieve the symptoms of flu and colds for adults

Echinacea for Children from Kiwiherb. A convenient dropper bottle, alcohol free, flavoured with orange and apple and suitable for infants and children.

500 mg Ester-C, the non-acidic form of vitamin C

Sambucol Elderberry extract as liquid or lozenges. Proven to halve recovery time and protect against infection, suitable for infants, children and adults.

Kwai Garlic one a day for powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties.

It's always best to try and avoid colds and prevent a dose of flu but if you do succumb remember that flu can be a serious illness especially in the very young, the elderly and those whose health is already compromised by other serious conditions. If you do catch it, stay away from work, keep warm, drink plenty of fluids and use the supplements as above. Stay at home for at least seven days if you want to avoid a relapse, the possibility of pneumonia and the certainty of passing it on to all your colleagues. When the symptoms subside take a megadose vitamin B complex supplement every day for a month to help with the post-flu depression.

Not If but When...

According to the flu experts at the Government's Health Protection Agency it's not yet clear which viruses will be coming but research scientist Dr. Dick Middleton says A pandemic is not a question of if but when. Flu viruses are with us all the time but epidemics only happen in winter. The latest research suggests that extra vitamin D from the sun is what makes the difference. So now's the time to eat more oily fish and take a vitamin D supplement to boost your resistance.

MedicHerb Echinaboost - 5.99 for 80. Boots, Waitrose or 01453 751395, www.medicherb.co.uk

Echinacea for Children, Kiwiherb - 8.35 for 50 ml. 08456 58 58 58 / www.xynergy.co.uk, health stores

Ester-C in various formulations

Sambucol around 8.00, health stores and www.nutriglow.com

Kwai Garlic, 4.95, chemists, supermarkets, health stores

Abbreviated or disturbed sleep may make you more susceptible to colds, Archives of Internal Medicine reports.

Some 150 volunteers recorded their sleep duration and sleep efficiency (defined as the percentage of time spent asleep while in bed) every day for 2 weeks. They were then quarantined and challenged with a rhinovirus.

During the next 5 days, the risk for developing a cold was about three times higher among participants who'd averaged less than 7 hours' sleep a night (vs. 8 or more), and nearly six times higher for those with less than 92% sleep efficiency (vs. 98% or more).

Good night!


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