WINTER can’t seem to make up its mind. One day it is warm and sunny and the next day, the cold digs its claws into us.
Professor Christo Muller, chief scientist at the South African Medical Research Council, said these changes shock our systems and makes colds and flu easier to catch.
“Certain food and herbs, such as rooibos tea, can help us fight infections.”
He said chilly, winter weather usually results in less blood supply to the body and in some people – especially the elderly – slower blood circulation tends to weaken the immune system.
But he said by drinking rooibos tea, we not only warm up the body but reduce general anxiety and relax tense muscles.
“Its beneficial effects on the body’s antioxidants boosts the immune system.”
Rooibos contains polyphenols. They have anti-inflammatory and antiviral qualities that help to fight disease.
The herb also helps to control the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which is known to cause hormonal disturbances.
“Colder weather may increase blood pressure as the blood vessels tense up.”
Rooibos is known as a bronchodilator, which opens up the airways and relieves respiratory conditions and may also reduce high blood pressure.
The tea acts as a vasodilator that helps blood vessels relax and widen, which makes blood flow easier.
He said winter darkness and lack of outdoor activity can also affect one’s mood and in some cases cause seasonal affective disorder – a category of depression that occurs during winter.
“One of the best ways to improve our mood is by eating a healthy diet containing fruit, vegetables and fish that help protect against stress – a risk factor for developing mental disorders such as depression.”
Experts recommend that people drink up to six cups of rooibos tea a day for the best health benefits.
For more information about rooibos visit www.sarooibos.co.za