With just weeks until the winter cold and flu season, now is the time to boost your immune system. While monitoring of cold and flu cases has not yet begun for the 2017, it is expected that four strains of flu will be common this year. The Northern Hemisphere suffered a particularly strong season.
Respected naturopath and herbalist, Anthia Koullouros said there are also natural ways to bolster your immune system prior to the cold and flu season.
She recommends a diet rich in antioxidants, plentiful fruit and vegetables, sensible amounts of sunlight, a daily self-care practice to help reduce stress and healthy sleep and exercise habits.
Ms Koullouros said olive leaf extract has also traditionally been used as an antimicrobial agent to support the immune system.
Research by the Australia's Southern Cross University (SCU) and published in The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, found olive leaf extract to be the most effective, free radical scavenging antioxidant of 55 medicinal herbs.
'The research, published in The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, shows fresh-picked olive leaf extract helps provide support and relief of symptoms of the common cold and flu, and coughs, " Ms Koullouros said.
'Fresh-picked olive leaf extract has been shown to contain a broad spectrum of over 20 potent antioxidants including Oleuropein, a polyphenol compound, which has been shown to be an effective antioxidant.
'Antioxidants are important for our immune system because they act like little sponges called -free-radical scavengers'. They help to soak up free radicals which may cause a weaker immune system and inflammation," Ms Koullouros said.
Fresh-Picked Olive Leaf Extract is uniquely produced using fresh-picked olive leaves grown in Queensland.
Using careful harvesting and extraction processes Fresh-Picked Olive Leaf Extract retains all quality components, including antioxidants, to maximise its efficacy.
Every batch of is tested to ensure the full benefit of olive leaf phenolics is delivered at guaranteed levels, every time.
Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist, please see your health professional.
Question: How can we create our best defence and boost the immune system now, ahead of cold and flu season?
Anthia Koullouros: Replenish with seasonal produce.
Eating seasonal fruit and vegetables means choosing produce at its peak availability, nutrition and flavour. Serve with every meal as a salad, baked, stir fried, steamed, sautéed, in a soup or broth, stew, juice or smoothie or eat whole, as is. Fresh fruit and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and other special nutrients necessary for a healthy immune system. A change in season brings a change in weather and temperature and this should dictate our food choices, cuisines and style of cooking. Warm up with soups, casseroles and slowly cooked foods in autumn and winter.
Use warming herbs & spices to naturally enhance your food & fluids.
Every day ingredients such as garlic, thyme, ginger, turmeric, mint, sage, cinnamon and chili are used in traditional herbal medicine to bolster immunity as well as speed the recovery of a common cold. Add a handful of fresh herbs to each meal just before serving e.g. freshly chopped parsley and mint over roast lamb.
Consider an immune bolstering antioxidant such as olive leaf extract.
During winter an extra boost may be necessary to support the immune system and help keep bugs at bay. Olive leaf extract is traditionally used in Western Herbal medicine to support the immune system and relieve symptoms of coughs, colds & flu, sore throats and upper respiratory tract infections. The active ingredient in olive leaf extract is Oleuropein – a phenolic compound which is one of the most powerful antioxidants around. Look for an olive leaf extract that is Australian made and -fresh-picked' to ensure it is as close to nature as possible by retaining all of the plant's phenolics that occur naturally in the olive leaf.
Eat nutrient dense, immune boosting foods rich in natural probiotics.
Probiotics or healthy bacteria are essential to cultivate a healthy digestive and immune system. Modern diets are often low in live bacteria due to over processing. A daily source of cultured foods and drinks such as kefir, beet kvass, kombucha, yoghurt, sauerkraut, kim chi, miso soup, pickles can easily be incorporated in every meal and they taste delicious too.
A daily self-care practice for the mind and body.
Make the time to implement the essential elements to create wellbeing. Bathe in sunlight, hydrate well, move your body, eat healthy whole foods, connect with loved ones, go early to bed and rise early.
Stress less (or manage it better).
Stress can lower immunity, generally. One-way stress reduces immunity is by suppressing lymphocytes. A daily meditation and self-care practice will keep your cortisol balanced and thereby may help keep your immune system strong.
Question: What do you do, if you start to feel unwell?
Anthia Koullouros: Rest, stay warm with a water bottle, early to bed, hydrate with warming broths, herbal infusions and water, include plenty of fresh vitamin C rich, organic produce such as citrus, kiwi, papaya, berries, capsicums and kale and sniff on a tissue or hanky of anti-bacterial essential oils such as lavender and eucalyptus. An immune supporting antioxidant such as olive leaf extract may help to relieve symptoms of coughs, colds & flus, sore throats and upper respiratory tract infections.
Question: Can you share your natural cold cures that actually work to kick winter bugs?
Anthia Koullouros: Garlic. The bulb and sprouts are traditionally used to dissolve mucous and act as an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anthelmintic (kills worms), warding off and treating infections of the gastrointestinal and respiratory systems.
Lemon Myrtle Leaf. Traditionally used as an anti-microbial by the Australian indigenous community. It has been used to treat allergies, colds, sore throats, gastric disturbances and infections. The key ingredient in lemon myrtle is the high concentration of citral in its leaves. Citral comprises 90-98% of the essential oils in lemon myrtle, as opposed to less than 10% in lemons and limes.
Olive Leaf Extract. As already mentioned above, Olive leaf extract is traditionally used in Western Herbal medicine to support the immune system and relieve symptoms of coughs, colds & flus, sore throats and upper respiratory tract infections.
Vitamin C. Vitamin C concentrations in the plasma and white blood cells rapidly decline during infections and stress. Supplementation of vitamin C was found to improve components of the human immune system such as antimicrobial and natural killer cell activities and lymphocyte proliferation. Trials document that adequate intakes of vitamin C ameliorate symptoms and shorten the duration of respiratory tract infections including the common cold
Question: How can a Mediterranean Diet help keep you well during the cooler months?
Anthia Koullouros: With a Greek-Cypriot background, I have grown up to eat a wholefood Mediterranean diet, what my grandparents ate - plenty of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, plant foods such as vegetables, fruit and some nuts and seeds and pulses, pastured lamb and wild fish and seafood and pastured dairy yogurt, cheese, butter, poultry and eggs. Plenty of fresh herbs and citrus juices are added to each meal as well bone stock broths, offal and fermented foods. Several epidemiological studies have evaluated the effects of a Mediterranean pattern as protective against diseases such as obesity, atherosclerosis, metabolic syndrome and cognition disorders. Why? Because a Mediterranean diet is rich in nutrients necessary for a thriving healthy human being and is free of industrialized processed vegetables oils, refined salt and sugar, artificial additives and farming chemicals - ingredients and products that have been shown to be detrimental to health. Some of the specific foods that make up a Mediterranean Diet include: Extra virgin olive oil, home grown or naturally grown plants (organic or free of chemicals), wild fish and seafood and pastured lamb.
Question: What are your top cold and flu fighting foods?
Anthia Koullouros: Garlic. The bulb and sprouts are traditionally used in herbal medicine to dissolve mucous and act as an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anthelmintic (kills worms), warding off and treating infections of the gastrointestinal and respiratory systems. Take 1 tablespoon of the fresh sprouts in a salad each day. Consume a clove of garlic per day pounded with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil or Manuka honey consumed, straight off the spoon or add to food while cooking.
Coconut oil. Contains lauric acid which converts into monolaurin, an antimicrobial substance that is able to fight bacteria, viruses, yeasts, and other pathogens. Lauric acid is also found in breast milk. Add coconut oil to smoothies, yoghurt, salad dressing or use as a cooking oil instead of processed vegetable oils. Avoid refined varieties and those made with palm oil. Choose cold pressed virgin or extra virgin coconut oil
Ginger. Traditionally used in herbal medicine as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory indicated for pain, congestion, nausea and warming to a cold constitution. Use fresh or dried in cooking, in a salad dressing, smoothie, poached fruit or as a hot tea infusion with Manuka honey and lemon juice.
Chicken soup. Many cultures prescribe chicken broth or soup when unwell. The nutrition from the bones, marrow and cartilage all contribute to reducing inflammation, aid hydration, thin mucous, relieve congestion and bolster gut immunity. The addition of vegetable and herbs & spices such as garlic, onions and lemon further enhance immunity and relieve symptoms
Mushrooms. In traditional Chinese medicine, the most common cold and flu fighting mushrooms are shitake, maitake, and reishi varieties. Choose organic kinds of fresh or dried, free of pesticides and chemicals. Add to broths and soups with greens, ginger, garlic and seaweed.
Question: Can you share a recipe with us, to boost our immune system?
Anthia Koullouros: Cold & Flu Shot
15mls Fresh-Picked Olive Leaf Extract
1 tsp ginger freshly grated
1 garlic clove, freshly crushed
½ tsp cinnamon powder
½ lemon squeezed
1 tsp Manuka honey
50 ml Kombucha or filtered water as a base
Combine all ingredients together in a glass and drink immediately.
Interview by Brooke Hunter