It’s the first day of June today — the official start to winter in the Southern hemisphere.

While many associate the winter season with hot chocolate and cosy fireplaces, it is also known for its sharp rise in the incidence of flu cases, which if nasty enough, can even cause us to be away from work or school for several days on end.

As with any condition, it is easier (and cheaper) to prevent rather than to cure once the condition is entrenched.

This is where nutritional intervention plays a powerful role in prevention.

Nutritional medicine understands that microbes (or germs) are ever-present in the environment and are continuously attempting to invade warm cosy environments like human cells where they multiply. Viruses, in particular, have no way of replicating unless they can hijack our cellular ‘machinery’. And when they start multiplying, they double their population about every 20 minutes — or even less. In practically no time at all, they dominate in huge numbers in the body. 

The job of our immune system is to mount a range of challenges to prevent the invasion. Healthy cells are well-equipped to prevent infection. When it appears that we have ‘caught’ something, it really means that our immune system, for whatever reason, was unable to mount the required challenge. That is why a family or other group of people may all have been exposed to the same germ — but only a few ‘catch’ it.

Halting the invasion
All human cells derive the molecules they need for optimal function from the food and beverages we consume. If our diets do not provide all the required nutrients and other food factors, some of the essential processes can fail. The failure may only be transitory — or it may be chronic. In any case, the ‘germ’ gets in and can further weaken a stressed immune system.

There are strategies that we can use to halt the invasion — as long as we start early. If we start early at the first sign of a sore throat, fever or sniffles, we can usually get control of the process. It is much harder to address if there are already billions of these organisms present. 

Our best approach is prevention and that means that we need to ensure that the cells are continuously provided with all the nutrients they need. It ultimately boils down to our food choices.  

Our food choices
As a general rule of thumb, our best food choices are those that are as minimally-processed as possible.

Breakfast cereals provide a good example of this: a peek into the typical ‘boxed’ cereals based on corn or rice or wheat reveals crunchy morsels that scarcely resemble the original grain.

The original grain, in actual fact, is a rich source of many essential nutrients. When it is processed, its outer hull (the bran) and the inside germ are both removed, leaving behind nothing but the ‘flour’ for consumption. In such refining, most of the vitamins and minerals are lost and we are left to eat mostly starch, with some protein. Of course, the manufacturer might add a few synthetic vitamins and some iron which could be seen on the box’s nutrition panel ­­— but what we may not know is there are many more that were not replaced.

By contrast, rolled oats are very close to the way Mother Nature made them, with only the tough outer husk removed. Oats retain most of the nutrients essential for human cells to function as they should. 

Just changing breakfast cereal can make a huge difference to our cellular function — not just from retaining the original vitamins and minerals — but from other components such as the fibres and unique plant molecules that have profound effects on our health.

Our food choices play a vital role in keeping us healthy. Smart food choices can literally have a huge impact in our lives.

Here’s wishing all our customers in the Southern Hemisphere a happy and healthy winter!