They’ve had had a nasty flu season down under– more lethal than usual. What happens over there, comes over here when the temperature drops. I've put together my top tips to avoid succumbing this year and share my recipe for Chicken Mulligatawny Soup which is packed with antimicrobials.
Tip 1 - VITAMIN C
The master immune supplement. Remember vit C is water soluble so take it throughout the day: 1g 3x daily. This nutrient is an absolute must-have in your first-aid cabinet, including chewables for children. To top your vitamin C levels up with food, remember broccoli and red peppers contain more C than oranges and there are loads of other foodie options, too: kale, cauliflower, parsley, spinach, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, blackcurrants and kiwi fruit. Oranges will make you produce more mucus when you have a cold, so I advise staying away.
Tip 2 - SAY NO TO SUGAR
Sugar suppresses the immune system for between 5-10 hours after you’ve consumed it. So if you’re having a cup of tea with sugar 3 times a day, your immune system is being continually suppressed. Say no more ☺
Tip 3 - WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY
This advice is age-old. I completely disagree with the regular use of antibacterial products. However, I’m on my way to London in the middle of flu season, and I’ve got an antibacterial hand gel in my pocket. I’ll be using that as soon as I get off the tube – and before I get my laptop and pen out, that’s for sure. And once more before I get in my car to drive home. I don’t want those germs coming home with me.
INTERESTING COLD FACT - the clue is in the name
In a recent study, researchers made students sit with their feet in cold water for 20 minutes (my idea of hell!). These students were found to be much more likely to catch a cold in the next five days than those who didn’t have the cold water torture. I’m always cold (I blame it on growing up in Hong Kong!). I often fill a hot water bottle to put under my feet as I’m working, or eating my lunch (Chinese medicine is very clear about NOT eating when your feet are cold) and with my recent discovery of cashmere socks, I finally have warm feet!
SOOTHE your SORE THROAT
Sage tea won’t get rid of your cold or flu (nor will it taste that delicious ☺), but it is fantastically effective in soothing a sore throat. Make a strong cup (1tsp herb: 1 mug boiling water) and sip/ gargle your way through it. It just works!
RECIPE OF THE MONTH - Chicken Mulligatawny Soup
Chicken soup when unwell isn’t just an old wives’ tale: research suggests that a bowl of chicken and vegetable soup can improve white blood cell efficiency, protecting your body from infection. Studies also show chicken soup to be helpful in reducing symptoms of the common cold and flu, and we know that onions and garlic potent antimicrobials with specific action in the lungs. so here’s my best recipe combining all three:
• 1 good knob butter
• olive oil
• 1 tbs curry powder
• 1 bulb garlic , peeled and crushed
• 8 onions , peeled and sliced
• sea salt
• freshly ground black pepper
• 200g ish chicken pieces, cubed – left over from a roast
• 2 chicken carcass stock, or bouillon stock, hot
Put the butter, olive oil, curry powder and garlic into a pan. Stir everything round and add the onions. Season. Place a lid on the pan, leaving it slightly ajar, and cook slowly for about 50 minutes, without colouring too much. Remove the lid for the last 20 minutes – your onions will become soft and golden. Stir occasionally so that nothing catches on the bottom. Slow cooking the onions gives amazing flavour and sweetness, so don’t rush this.
Then add the stock and chicken pieces. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, then blitz and eat.