Article by Angela Haldane

Q. This winter I would like to be proactive, by strengthening my immunity rather than waiting for some virus or bacteria to strike. What natural remedies do you recommend?

A. A prevention-is-better-than-cure approach – I like it! Firstly, immunity begins in the gut – this is our frontline to many pathogens and bugs. We are meant to have 3kg of bacteria in our digestive system which play an important role in immunity.

With an increase in antibacterial products, antibiotics and stress in our lives, these have been found to knock out the friendly bacterial count. I would start on the immune boosting path by replenishing good bacteria in the gut. From the kitchen, this can be a good quality yoghurt (six spoonfuls taken throughout the day) on an empty stomach, or a quality refrigerated probiotic product.

Many people are low in iron and zinc. Low energy and recurrent opportunistic infections are signs that you are lacking in iron. This can be clarified with a blood test. Zinc deficiency often manifests as white dots on the nails, lack of taste or smell, and slow wound healing. Meat, dark leafy vegetables and nuts/seeds will boost your iron and zinc levels.

The herb echinacea purpurea or angustifolia prepared from the roots – which is more effective than flowering top (a good quality product will make your tongue tingle). Astragalus membranaceus and Withania somnifera also strengthen immunity and provide resistance to stressors. The Immune Booster and Cold Decongestant formulae are available on this website.

And don't forget to keep fit and make time for leisure and laughter; your immune system will thank you for it.