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How to fight off colds and sniffles and take charge of your wellbeing, naturally

The common cold. We’ve all had one. Runny nose, congestion, sore throat, sneezing.  While cold symptoms vary widely and can include headaches and fever, all colds are respiratory infections. And there are apparently more than 200 responsible viruses. A cold is usually caused by a weakened immune system that ‘opens the door’ to your being unwell. There’s no magic solution for combatting a cold. And once you have one, there is no sure fire cure. But you can help ward off a cold by including foods and nutrients into your diet which are helpful in prevention and remedy of a one. Here are seven foods to include in your diet to maintain (or regain) a healthy immune system.

Peppers

Packed with vitamin C, it’s a more satisfying option that a vitamic C pill. A yellow bell pepper is the ideal one to choose, superseding red and green peppers with its vitamin C content. Scoff one down and enjoy 5 x more than your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. Vitamin C has long been thought to be helpful in treating respiratory infections, and while not wholly correct it is useful in helping to relieve the symptoms of a cold. And an added benefit is that vitamin C may help shorten the your poorly spell and lessen the severity of your symptoms. Certain people benefit more from the intake of vitamin C when it comes to boosting immunity; children, athletes, elderly and heavy smokers.

Mushrooms

The humble fungi is rich in B vitamins, selenium and antioxidants. For a considerable time mushrooms have been considered to offer immune-boosting benefits. Now it’s considered that mushrooms have an antiviral effect and eating them may be responsible for an increased production of cells responsible for fighting infection. When your body has reduced amounts of the mineral selenium (which is notoriously difficult to find in food items) it’s been found that there is a greater risk of developing flu. The B vitamins, niacin and thiamine, in mushrooms, help keep the immune system strong. Which ones do you put on your shopping list? Maitake and shiitake mushrooms have the highest nutrients that appear to have an immune-boosting ability. Sauté, grill or use fresh. There are plenty of recipes for soups, starters and mains to bring the fungi to your table.

Alcohol

Taking a tipple to treat a cold isn’t actually a good idea. Boozing when you are already sick in a (desperate) attempt to treat a cold isn’t advisable. It could make you dehydrated, worsen your congestion and react badly with medicines. But, there is a line of thinking that a daily drink might make you less likely to get sick in the first place. Apparently some studies show that regular and moderate consumption of alcohol may be associated with lower prevalence of the common cold.  In general terms a moderate alcohol intake is thought to be one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. Cheers to that. I’ll think of it as making my body a hostile environment.

Chicken Soup

It’s not an old wives myth. There’s science to support the sentiment that chicken soup helps cure the common cold. Being pretty practical about it, the the warm liquid is hydrating which helps to loosen mucus and eases sore throats. Now for the science bit. Preliminary research shows the ingredients in chicken soup may have unique medicinal properties. According to a laboratory test at the University of Nebraska Medical Center the broth, vegetables and chicken all showed anti-inflammatory properties. The researchers studied the movement of neutrophils (white blood cells). They found they were reduced by chicken soup, suggesting the soup might have an anti-inflammatory effect Known as “Grandma’s Soup,” the recipe used in the study includes chicken, onions, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery stems, parsley, salt and pepper. Having made this myself, many times, I have learned that using a whole chicken with the skin on is the best thing to do. The chicken fat has a role to play with easing congestion. And if it’s made with love, that always helps too.

Citrus – especially the zest

We all know that oranges, lemons, grapefruits and other citrus fruits are jam packed with vitamin C. So tuck in regularly to keep your immune system bolstered. I didn’t appreciate that one medium orange exceeds your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C (117% apparently). Vitamin C is renowned for boosting immunity by fighting cell-damaging free radicals. As such it’s been snapped up by the beauty industry for its anti-ageing properties. But from a wellbeing point of view there may be an added benefit for those suffering from severe colds. The part that we usually throw away, the peel has a natural chemical, limonene. It’s thought it could play a potential role in the treatment of bronchitis, though more research is needed to know for sure. Preliminary data also shows that limonene may help fight cancer and aid in weight loss. So how do you use citrus peel in your meal plans? You can make a citrusy vinaigrette salad dressing by whisking together fresh orange juice and a generous pinch of grated orange peel (zest) with olive oil and a squirt of lemon juice. Or do as we do in South Africa and never throw away the peel but slice it into thin strips and dry it. Add to stews, casseroles and cakes to enliven them and – as it turns out – make use of limonene.

Ginger

Highly versatile, ginger is also a spice with one of the longest medicinal histories. For over 2,000 years Eastern medicine has made use of ginger to help cure and prevent numerous health conditions. In Japanese, Chinse and Ayurvedic medicine ginger has been used for treating colds Sipping a cup of ginger tea is thought to be helpful at the beginning of a cold. A warm cup of fresh ginger tea with honey and lemon juice can help sooth a sore throat but loosening mucus, ease discomfort of a scratchy throat and reducing nausea. Ginger is also helpful for pregnancy-related nausea, but as always, if you are preggers, talk to your health care professional first. So whether you prefer ginger in your holiday cookies or your beef-and-broccoli stir-fry, dried or fresh or as a tea, do make it part of your everyday.

Sardines

I know. I know. But fatty fish is high in omega-3 fats, which are proven to help reduce the risk of heart disease and inflammation in the body. A new study in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology demonstrates how omega-3s may also help boost the immune system by enhancing the functioning of immune cells. Sardines beat other oily fish, fin down – -when it comes to omega-3s. Considering a three-ounce servicing Canned sardines              1259 milligrams of omega-3s. That’s impressive compared to; Rainbow trout (905), salmon (805) or a family favourite canned tuna (196) Omega-3s aside, sardines also provide other important nutrients to keep your immune system firing on all cylinders including; protein, alcium and Vitamin D.

Aloe Ferox Whole-leaf Juice

With over 130 natural medicinal properties, the juice is bursting with goodness. And a bit more palatable than sardines. Just enjoy a measure daily of Aloe Ferox Whole-Leaf Juice to improve your overall vigour and boost your immune system to ward off the common cold. Have ‘neat’, mix with fruit juice or blend into your favourite smoothie. Be well. Michelle
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4-step skin care routine for a fresher complexion and softer skin at any age

4 steps to better skin through all your ages.

Skin care can be seem overly complicated, can’t it? I am sure that you, like me and many others have at some point invested in a cream that has promised so much, yet delivered so little. And I mean invest. You can spend multiple times over on the moisturiser with the big ‘promise’ than you do on the cleanser. And what you get if you have skin like mine (combination, sensitive skin that doesn’t particularly like fragrance – read, temperamental) is spots. But for great skin regardless of your age, here are 4 essential steps to make the best of the skin you have and keep it looking as youthful as possible – not matter what age you are.
  1. Start every day with sunscreen no matter the weather.
The most damaging factor for our skin, without contest, are ultraviolet rays from the sun. They damage and age the skin like nothing else. Even on cloudy days, so common in the U.K. up to 80 percent of the sun’s UV radiation still penetrates the clouds. So applying facial sunscreen every morning is a must. Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 + to block up to 97% of the sun’s rays. Personally I find the higher the SPF the more pore clogging the sunscreen and the more prone I am to breakouts. If you have discovered a skin friendly high SPF, I’d love to hear about it. I am content with SPF 15 and covering up. I am a fan of hats, every season.
  1. Apply a serum to help deal with antioxidants each morning.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals. You’ll have heard about free radicals, those pesky, unstable molecules that can damage the collagen and elastin in our skin. Normal body processes create free radicals but so do pollution, UV radiation, and eating junk / processed foods. Applying an antioxidant serum every morning is a key step in fighting off free radicals. Timeless Skin Energizing Serum punches above its price tag.
  1. Gently exfoliate your skin two to three times per week.
Previous advice may have advocated once a week. But it turns out ‘more is more’. Younger complexions turn over skin every six to eight weeks. Rapid renewal of skin cells contributes to a bright, vibrant, smooth skin which is wrinkle-free. But as we get older the skin rejuvenation process slows. Sloughing off older skin cells is the ticket. Those now redundant cells that tend to clump on the surface of our skin and causing our complexions to look dull, skin to feel dry or rough and exaggerating the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Exfoliating your skin removes this upper layer of dead skin cells. Skin is immediately brighter and looks fresher and more vibrant. And the good news, exfoliating sends a signal to deeper layers of skin cells that they need to turn over more quickly, stimulating the rejuvenation cycle six to eight weeks that lends itself to younger looking skin. No need to overdo it daily – exfoliating two to three times per week will do. Sensitive skins benefit from a routine just once a week. From special sponges and scrubs, masks and peels and even toners, there are many ways to exfoliate the skin. Here’s a recipe for one you can mix up at home. DIY Baking Soda Exfoliating All-over Scrub Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • ¼ cup gently warmed reduced fat milk
Directions Stir all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Rinse your face with warm water, put the exfoliating scrub on a washcloth, and gently clean your skin with it. Rinse off with warm water.
  1. Night time is the right time to apply an anti-aging cream.
Like so many other parts our bodies, our skin rejuvenates itself at night. That’s why night time is the ideal time to use anti-ageing creams. They have six to eight uninterrupted hours to hydrate, soften and rejuvenate your skin. The trick is to match your skin type to your night cream. Timeless Skin Night Cream contains proven anti-ageing active ingredients that help stimulate micro-circulation to improve collagen and elastin production to firm your skin’s structure. If you are younger, or have skin prone to breakout with richer formulations you may prefer a rejuvenating essence or hydrating gel. Aloe Ferox Rejuvenating Essence  is clinically proven to stimulate collagen synthesis and help restore skin’s elasticity. It is very effective used in combination with Spotless Crème to redress hyper-pigmentation. Aloe Ferox Super Aloe Gel is deeply hydrating, oil and fragrance-free. So that’s it, skin care kept simple. Aloe Ferox is an imminently affordable skin care range for all skin types. For a capsule anti-ageing skincare range Timeless Skin combines nature and science with proven results. Be beautiful. Stay beautiful. Michelle  

Other blogs.

How do you find the best skin care products? Look in the mirror – your skin reflects your wellbeing. Are we disconnected from the world around us? If you live in the city, take a walk in the park to be well and stay well.
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Are we disconnected from the world around us?

There is a clever chap, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee who writes for The Guardian and was recently contemplating the deeper human issues that may be, in part responsible for our environmental crises.
He said, ‘If we go to the root of the present ecological crisis we will find a state of disconnection. We appear frighteningly disconnected from real awareness of the effects of our materialistic culture upon the very ecosystem that supports us. The challenge is to develop a value-based economic structure, that is not concerned solely with our material well-being, but embraces the whole human being – body and spirit – as well as the rich biodiversity of the Earth.’
Isn’t is funny how when you focus on something, some idea, suddenly everything feels connected? I was having an internal conversation earlier this week. I had some random questions about the ‘disconnect’ of our modern age. When we get ‘plugged into’ technology do we dampen our awareness of the world around us? When people travel across the world and make modern families not related by blood but experience do they feel that they belong but aren’t bonded? If people have their beliefs but don’t worship with others do they feel alone in the universe? I don’t have answers. I don’t have hard opinions. But I know that the busier I get and the less time I spend with family, friends, nature, yeah – my dog and my quiet self, the more I am at risk of being  spiritually impoverished. Right now, given some personal challenges, my motto is to do more with less – less time, less energy, less angst. And to live in the moment. My hope for you. Be well, stay well.  Michelle

Other blogs

How do you find the best skin care products? Look in the mirror – your skin reflects your wellbeing. 4-step skin care routine for a fresher complexion and softer skin at any age If you live in the city, take a walk in the park to be well and stay well.