Boosting the immune system’s defences for winter

No matter how fit someone feels or how good they look, it’s impossible to tell how healthy they are on the inside. An underperforming or below par immune system can leave anyone vulnerable to a host of illnesses and infections – or even raise the risk of developing potentially serious health problems.

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The hectic modern lifestyle – often with high levels of stress – can have a huge effect on physical wellbeing, cutting down on the body’s natural ability to respond to new threats. However, immunity can be gently but significantly boosted by a host of natural ingredients, working to support and encourage the body’s own natural defences against illness, helping ward off infections from viruses, bacteria and fungi.
The experts at Kwai and Potter’s Herbals have the answer: two products that use key vitamins and herbs to promote healthy immunity as well as maintain lower cholesterol levels and a healthy heart. Kwai Heart+Immune daily tablets feature dried garlic powder for cardiovascular health and vitamins A, C and E for the immune system. Potter’s Herbal’s Elixir of Echinacea Plus contains the key immunity promoting herbs Echinacea, wild indigo and fumitory. Together, the two products make the ideal immune boosting combination.
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Potter’s Herbals Elixir of Echinacea Plus: 
One of Potter’s Herbals oldest remedies, Elixir of Echinacea Plus gives all the benefits of this hugely popular herb in an easy-to-take, pleasant-tasting liquid. With a highly concentrated formulation, each 5ml dose contains the extract from 640mg of top quality Echinacea angustifolia root, enhanced by the addition of wild indigo and fumitory. It is traditionally used for symptomatic relief of nasal or throat catarrh and minor skin irritations.
Echinacea balances and stimulates the immune system and helps the body to fight against infection. Potter’s Herbals Elixir of Echinacea Plus contains a standardized extract and one of the highest concentrations on the market, which ensures you are receiving high levels of the active ingredients. A number of laboratory and animal studies suggest that Echinacea contains active substances that enhance the activity of the immune system  and so has the ability to raise the body’s resistance to bacterial and viral infections.  Antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant effects have also been documented. 
Most experts say that when taken in adequate and frequent doses at the onset of symptoms, Echinacea can shorten the duration and severity of a cold. Based on new research, it may also make sense to start Echinacea if you’ve been exposed to someone with a cold.      Echinacea is also used for skin diseases and to aid wound healing and for upper respiratory-tract infections such as tonsillitis and pharyngitis, as a preventative as well as a treatment. Fumitory has anti-pain and anti-inflammatory properties  and contains sanguinarine, which is antiseptic. Wild indigo has antimicrobial, antiseptic and antipyretic – fever reducing – properties. Constituents include polysaccharides, which have been shown to enhance antibody production and also demonstrate other immunomodulatory activities, supporting its anti-infective use.   
Commenting on Potter’s Herbals Elixir of Echinacea Plus, Dr Serene Foster, Immunologist and Medical Herbalist, and advisor to the Henry Potter Advisory Committee says “It is encouraging to see effective  herbals available over the counter. The cold and Flu season costs the nation a lot in terms of lost days at school, work, and while on holiday. Now we can all benefit from good mixtures which address all aspects of colds. When Potters Herbal Elixir of Echinacea Plus is taken at the first sign of a cold, it will support and balance your immune system to reduce the symptoms and shorten the time you suffer a cold and make you feel better faster”
“No matter how well we look after ourselves, with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise, there’s always more we can do to help ward off infection from the bacteria, viruses or fungi we encounter on a daily basis. The body has a finely tuned and hugely powerful defence mechanism to fight off invading pathogens and maintain overall health, but it can still benefit greatly from extra support and nurturing.”
  RRP £10.16    Available in Boots nationwide.
Kwai Heart+Immune: 
Garlic has been cultivated and used in traditional medicine for thousands of years for a variety of conditions, such as bites, tumours, wounds and headaches. More recently, garlic has been studied for its potential to combat cardiovascular disease, particularly for its effects on blood cholesterol levels. Each Heart+Immune tablet contains 300mg of dried garlic powder and this has a guaranteed yield of 1.8mg of a substance called allicin, which is the active ingredient that is key to helping lower cholesterol and boosting cardiovascular health. It is impossible to get this needed level of allicin from eating garlic and so Kwai is the product to ensure you are getting this benefit from garlic’s natural active ingredient. It is also odourless and does not taste of garlic. 
New research published in the leading dietitian journal Complete Nutrition has confirmed the potential for the garlic in Kwai – releasing 1,800 mcg of allicin per tablet – to help reduce cholesterol levels linked with heart disease, along with other cardiovascular benefits. There is substantial evidence that links raised levels of a type of cholesterol called low-density lipoprotein (LDL) with the risk of developing atherosclerosis, and clinical trials have shown that lowering LDL-cholesterol can cut CHD risk. However, not all garlic preparations are effective for improving LDL cholesterol. Unless a garlic preparation has effective allicin releasing potential, LDL cholesterol levels may not be reduced. A standardised dried garlic preparation releasing 1.8 mg of allicin per dose, such as Kwai Heart+Immune, has been shown to help cut cholesterol while other forms of garlic – such as extracts or garlic oils – may have little beneficial activity.   
The allicin from garlic is also thought to combat infection by helping to stop bacteria replicating, so acting as a natural antibiotic as well as inhibiting both viruses and fungi. Garlic has a strong reputation for its ability to help healing and fight infection in wounds – during the First World War it was used as a natural antiseptic for the wounded – and it has also been used to prevent coughs, colds and flu or tackle an already present infection. In addition to the garlic, immunity is also boosted thanks to Heart+Immune’s key vitamin content. Each daily tablet contains 100% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of both vitamin A and C and 125% of the RDA of vitamin E.
Commenting on Kwai Heart+Immune, independent dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton says: “It is now well accepted that vitamins A and C and garlic have a vital role in supporting a normal immune function, while vitamin E is a potent antioxidant, helping to protect cells from oxidative stress which leads to cell damage. Human research on garlic shows that it is antimicrobial and can reduce levels of harmful bacteria and viruses which cause disease. 
“Indeed garlic is used in traditional medicine across the globe to treat a variety of conditions. Eating garlic is not always practical and it’s unclear whether sufficient amounts of the active ingredients in garlic can be achieved using the fresh version. Therefore, a combined supplement, such as Kwai Heart and Immune, offers a simple, effective option for supporting normal immune function.”
30 tablets RRP £6.12; 100 tablets £16.33.    Available from Boots
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Garlic proven to fight common food poisoning

Washington: Garlic has the power to fight food-borne bacterial illnesses, according to new research.
The common bacteria Campylobacter jejuni, is a leading cause of intestinal illness caused by eating undercooked poultry or foods that have been contaminated during poultry preparation.
“Campylobacter is simply the most common bacterial cause of food-borne illness in the United States and probably the world,” explained coauthor Michael Konkel of Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in an article recently published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.
The researchers compared the effects of diallyl sulfide, a compound that occurs in garlic, and the antibiotics ciprofloxacin and erythromycin on biofilms formed by Campylobacter jejuni. Biofilms are colonies of bacteria protected by a film that renders them a thousand times more resistant to antibiotics than free cells. Cell death following the administration of diallyl sulfide occurred at a concentration of resveratrol that was 100-fold less than that which was effective for either antibiotic, and often took less time to work. The team found that diallyl sulfide combined with a sulfur-containing enzyme, which altered the cells’ function and metabolism.


“This work is very exciting to me because it shows that this compound has the potential to reduce disease-causing bacteria in the environment and in our food supply,” stated lead author and postdoctoral researcher Xiaonan Lu, PhD.
“This is the first step in developing or thinking about new intervention strategies,” added Dr Konkel. “Diallyl sulfide may be useful in reducing the levels of the Campylobacter in the environment and to clean industrial food processing equipment, as the bacterium is found in a biofilm in both settings.”
“Diallyl sulfide could make many foods safer to eat”, noted Barbara Rasco, another co-author of the report. “It can be used to clean food preparation surfaces and as a preservative in packaged foods like potato and pasta salads, coleslaw and deli meats. This would not only extend shelf life but it would also reduce the growth of potentially bad bacteria.”
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Live-longer Secrets from around the world

These are the countries in which women have the longest lifespan, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Health Data 2005:

Japan 85.3
Spain 83.7
France 82.9
Australia 82.9
Iceland 82.5
Canada 82.1
Finland 81.8
New Zealand 81.1
UK 80.7
USA 79.9


Finland had the highest rate of deaths from heart disease in the world in the 1970s. It has now reversed that trend by combining a healthier diet and outdoor exercise. Half of women walk or cycle to work and the populace defy sub-zero temperatures to hike and ski.


Although the French diet is higher in dairy fat, they have less heart disease, are slimmer and live longer than most Europeans. Garlic and red wine are thought to be responsible for some of the lower levels of cardiovascular disease.


A combination of beneficial foods including fish, rice, soya and vegetables mean the Japanese have lower rates of heart disease than Europeans. Soya improves bone health and prevents hot flushes and is thought to fight cancer. Antioxidant vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower, are also popular. The Japanese also drink green tea which is full of antioxidants


There is less Alzheimer’s amongst elderly people in India than in most Western countries.

Circumin, the active ingredient in tumeric a speice used in curry, has been linked to these lower levels of disease. Scientists at the University of California believe it may slow down the progression of the disease. They discovered that there were half the number of amayloid plaques – the protein thought to be implicated in Alzheimer’s – in people who consumed circumin. It has also been shown to stop the spread of some cancers.