Mary Linehan counts herself lucky that she's managed to avoid this year’s exceptionally virulent flu virus.
The oddest thing about this particular strain is that just when sufferers feel on the road to recovery – it comes back with a vengeance, so I'm told. Maybe (smugly…) I'm flu-free because I eat more than five fruits and vegetables a day.
I‘m sure most of you know the 5 A Day campaign: eat at least that many portions of fruits and vegetables daily to get the vitamins and minerals necessary for optimum health and to support the immune system – the frontline when battling colds and flu. But, according to a recent survey by Boots, less than a third of us manage this. Boots Nutritionist Vicky Pennington explains, “It’s important to try to achieve your ‘5 a day’ because in truth – you are what you eat!”
The general consensus is that we should be able to get our RDA (Recommended Daily Amount) from food. According to Shabir Dayar, co-founder and resident chemist for www.victoriahealth.com, “Nothing can match a balanced and broad diet containing greens, the correct amount of carbohydrates and proteins, and the phyto-nutrients available from fruits. But, it’s almost impossible to have a balanced diet on a daily basis because of our food preferences.” And what is a balanced diet, anyway, you ask?
Shabir explains, “The capacity of individuals to break down foods varies, the levels of beneficial bacteria involved in the last stage of digestion differs and many other factors are involved in the assimilation of nutrients. Foods may be chemically processed, generally modified to ensure they reach the supermarket shelves looking fresh, and sprayed with artificial preservatives to keep them fresh so could be ‘old’ and less nutritious when you eat them.”
It doesn’t get any easier. There are 13 separate vitamins – A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, C, D, E and K. A, D, E and K are fat-soluble and can be stored in the body for up to six months; B complex and C are water-soluble and excreted, so it’s important to try to replace these daily. And man cannot live by vitamins alone – they work together with a variety of nutrients.
All Natural Perfectly Balanced by The Natural Nutrition Centre (£24.95 from www.victoriahealth.com) have all the essential vitamins, minerals, green foods, digestive enzymes and phyto-nutrients for cellular function, all derived from food sources.
While isolated vitamins have a role to play, Shabir says, “The immune system is unlike any other in the body in that it is a collection of biological and chemical processes which has a broad requirement of nutritional needs. Here single supplements might not be of benefit. Vitamin C is used commonly for colds and flu but that assumes all the other nutrients required for an optimum immune function are present in the blood.”
Vicky Pennington agrees and recommends Boots Vitamin C and Zinc Tablets (£2.79 for 60). “Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and works more potently with zinc to maintain a healthy immune system.” Also from www.victoriahealth.com, try 10 Day Get Well, Stay Well by 10 Day Results (£19.95 for 60). “This supplement contains beta carotene, vitamin C and much more, to ensure that the immune system is normalised often within days.”
So, get popping to try and beat that flu.
For more info on vitamins and supplements and mail order, visit www.victoriahealth.com.
Boots Chemists are nationwide. Or visit them on-line at www.boots.com