Flu fighters: How to protect yourself from the inside

As South Africa enters the winter flu season amid heightened health risks, internationally renowned nutritionist and award-winning author Patrick Holford warns “it has never been more important to support your immune system”.

Between 6,000 and 11,000 South Africans die from the common flu every year, according to the Department of Health, of which half of those are 65 years and older.

Our hospitalisation rates are also high with people infected with HIV, those with chronic illnesses, children under 5 years old and pregnant women.

The Flu Fighter’s guide

Holford’s new book, Flu Fighters: how to win the cold war by boosting your natural immunity with non-toxic nutrients, follows 40 other international best-sellers and is now available in South African bookstores.

Drawing on the latest independent international research, his experience as a pioneer in innovative approaches to health and nutrition, and as co-founder of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition and the Food for the Brain Foundation, Flu Fighters offers a comprehensive guide to supporting the immune system with nutrition, as well as a collection of delicious immune-supporting recipes using simple ingredients.

Research-backed advice

In his book, Holford advises people to protect themselves from the inside by building a healthy immune system.

The advice is based on numerous recent independent trial research studies conducted in China, Italy and the US on the effectiveness of vitamin C, vitamin D, antioxidants and zinc on respiratory distress, and Holford’s 35 years of research with the world’s leading universities, research institutions, hospitals and laboratories on the topic of the benefits of optimum nutrition on a range of health topics.

Just as you wear protective masks and gloves, you need to protect yourself on the inside,” says Holford.

The flu-fighting toolkit

While the conventional view has been that vitamin C won’t stop a cold, it does make symptoms less severe and shorter with doses above 6 grams,” he adds.

In a recent trial conducted on 252 university students at Pusan National University Hospital in South Korea, 85% experienced much less severe symptoms. And in two placebo studies, at the University of Helsinki in Finland, giving 6 to 8g in the first day, colds were 20% shorter. For those taking 8g on the first day, 46% had symptoms that only lasted for one day.

Ahead of and during the flu season, Holford recommends incorporating rich sources of these nutrients into your daily diet:

  • Take 1g of vitamin C, twice a day. At the first signs of a cold, take 1g (1,000mg) an hour until the symptoms have eased.
  • Get out in the sun (vitamin D) with as much skin exposed as possible, but remember to use sunscreen.
  • Eat nuts, seeds and beans.
  • Eat oily fish, such as mackerel, salmon and sardines.
  • Juice ginger and lemons, and freeze in ice trays. At the first sign of a sore throat take two ginger ice cubes, one lemon ice cube, 1g of vitamin C and add hot water for a soothing, warm drink.

Patrick Holford’s latest book, Flu Fighters, is available at all leading bookstores, as well as online at Books Direct, Takealot and Loot. There is also a Kindle version on Amazon. For more information, visit www.flufighters.net.

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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