Boost your immune system - and fight off the flu - with these all-natural kitchen cupboard staples
There are few things worse than catching a cold, cough, sore throat – or worse still – the flu.
What starts with the shivers or a niggly throat, soon becomes a full-blown winter illness, leaving you feeling miserable and exhausted.
Before you reach for the pill packet to beat that cold, or lock yourself in the house until spring, try a little natural medicine.
These kitchen cures for a cold won’t leave you drowsy, they’ll simply aid your immune system or gently soothe your throat until you feel better…
Leafy greens are packed full of nutrients including vitamins A, C and B vitamins, plus they help digestion by increasing the hydrochloric acid levels in your stomach, reducing heartburn and supporting your liver functioning. These green vegetables are great for supporting your immune system in the long-term. The more bitter the greens taste, the better they are for you. If you're looking for recipe inspiration why not try green smoothies and kale salads?
Red peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, not to mention, they also include carotenoids and vitamin E. During cold and flu season, vitamin C will boost your immune system and fight off unwanted illnesses. Or if you're already sick, they'll give you the nutrient boost you need.
Parsnips aid brain function and serotonin production, helping you stay calm and reducing stress. They're also rich in minerals and support healthy bones, blood cells and even help to clear your skin.
The healthy fat in coconut oil contains antiviral properties, which are still present when heated, so you can cook with it and it'll still retain its goodness. Coconut oil also helps to soothe and lubricate your throat if you're suffering from a nasty cough and cold.
Ginger is a great natural alternative to over-the-counter medication for relieving an upset stomach. The root is a strong remedy for nausea but also contains a powerful compound called gingerol which helps period cramps, bloating and indigestion and helps to keep bacterial infections at bay. This great all-rounder can be consumed in many ways too, from smoothies to stir fries, so it's easy to incorporate it into your diet when you're ill.
Dehydration is one of the biggest causes of headaches. However, adding lemon juice to your water is an effective relief, as not only does it add flavour but the citrus properties help detoxify the liver and aid digestion.
Pineapple is not only packed full of vitamin C, it is also the only naturally occurring source of bromelain - an antioxidant and super anti-inflammatory enzyme. The combination of vitamin C and bromelain prevents sinus and respiratory inflammation.
Elderberry is a brilliant all rounder for cold and flu season. It contains antioxidant, antiviral, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory and antidepressant properties. According to research it also beats blueberries, cranberries, goji berries and blackberries for flavonoid content. Studies have also found consuming elderberry when suffering cold and flu-like symptoms can reduce the duration and severity of the illness.
Cinnamon is traditionally used in Chinese medicine to strengthen and increase immunity. Dissolve a small amount of powdered cinnamon in a little hot water, then add a spoonful honey to make a warming, sore throat beating drink.
Some scientists believe that there is a link between low vitamin D levels and catching a cold. More research is needed, but adding a little plain, natural, probiotic yoghurt to your breakfast cereal certainly won't do you any harm!
It's no wonder we all reach for the honey when feeling under the weather. Honey has been used for centuries to soothe minor illnesses, like sore throats and a tickly cough, because it provides a protective barrier against germs, cutting the lifespan of a cold.
Apple cider vinegar really is a kitchen cupboard hero! Studies suggest that the blood becomes more alkaline when the body is fighting off a cold. Apple cider vinegar taken medicinally helps with acid levels. Add a little to a bowl of boiling water then breathe in the vapours to help with congestion, or simply take a capful dissolved in water every day to strengthen immunity during flu season.
Salt is renowned for it's antiseptic qualities, so gargle with salt water when your throat is sore to kill any germs.