Fruit And Vegetables – Your Natural Cold And Flu Remedy

We’re being told the 2015 influenza season is looming if not already upon us. Health authorities monitor what they call ‘influenza-like illness’ throughout the year and have noted the increase in activity usually expected in winter.

Common winter problems include coughs, colds and flu, rhinitis, sinusitis and tonsillitis. During winter, even arthritis plays up, cold sores are more common, dry skin is an issue and there are even more heart attacks.

However, you can also boost your resistance to colds, flu and other respiratory infections and better arm yourself against other health problems just by making sure you have a diet rich in seasonal fruit and vegetables.

Queenslanders are spoiled by the range of fruit and veg in season at this time of year – a much wider range of locally grown produce is available here in winter than in the southern states.

Now on the shelves at Yuen’s and fresh daily, these include:

  •       Apples
  •       Avocados
  •       Bananas
  •       Cherries
  •       Custard Apples
  •        Dates
  •        Dragonfruit
  •        Grapefruit
  •        Honeydew Melons, Watermelons and Rockmelons
  •        Kiwifruit
  •        Lemons and Limes
  •        Mandarins and Oranges
  •        Passionfruit
  •        Paw Paw
  •        Pears
  •        Pineapples
  •       Strawberries

The value of locally sourced and seasonal is that the health benefits are greater in fresher produce. University of Pennsylvania studies show a proper diet helps avoid colds and flu:

“These foods, which are largely fruits and vegetables, enhance your immune system and regulate your internal processes… (and) it is much better to rely on fruits and vegetables than vitamins or supplements.”

We can tend to think of colds and flu as pretty much the same thing but they’re actually different. There are ‘only’ about 200 types of cold virus and they don’t change so our bodies learn resistance and we get fewer colds as we get older. Children may get five or ten colds a year; adults may only suffer two or three.

There is also no vaccine for a cold unlike the flu. However, you can treat a cold with fruit!

Recent studies have found vitamin C is not as good at preventing colds as commonly thought but it can help stop them sooner if you get oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes into you as soon as the first symptoms appear. We’re only talking about a day less on average but every little helps when you’re sick.

Good news is that apples also help. One apple has the antioxidant effect of 1500 mg of vitamin C.

To arm yourself in advance, you can always bring in the ‘big gun’ – garlic. It contains allicin, a compound producing powerful antioxidants. An older study in the journal Advances in Therapy found garlic taken for three months over the last weeks of autumn and the first eight weeks of winter resulted in fewer colds or faster recovery.

Needless to say, it works best as a raw clove or as a fresh ingredient in cooking rather than pills.

Health Magazine reports that when you already have a cold or flu, fennel helps:

“Fennel is a natural expectorant and can help clear chest congestion and soothe a persistent cough. It can be eaten raw or roasted.”

As for other health issues that appear to worsen in winter, the UK’s National Health Service admits it’s not know why many people with arthritis say their joints become more painful at this time.

They suggest cold weather gets people a little depressed and makes them perceive pain more acutely. Daily exercise is recommended and here at Yuen’s we also advocate vegetables, fruit, herbs and spices. They are all full compounds that reduce inflammation.

Our view is backed up by US clinician Amy Jamieson-Petonic who says it’s actually one of the best ways to protect your health.

On a final note, one of the most common complaints in winter is dry skin. This is because humidity is low. Moisturising lotions and creams aren’t actually absorbed by the skin. Good quality natural ones just stop moisture loss while many average moisturisers contain petrochemicals that actually damage the skin in the long term.

This website says olive oil is a great natural moisturiser but admits many people don’t like the idea of putting just olive oil on their skin. That’s why they also include a rather nice sounding recipe for olive oil, lemon and salt scrub which acts as an exfoliant as well as moisturiser:

  •        the juice of one lemon
  •        five tablespoons of sea salt, and
  •        one tablespoon of olive oil.

They say it ‘will leave your skin feeling fresh and moisturised and incredibly soft’.

But of course the classic natural moisturiser is fresh cucumber which has antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that hydrate, soften, soothe and cleanse. Here is a recipe to make a cucumber lotion intended for the face but that can also be used on the hands – and it all starts with one fresh cucumber!