During cold and flu season, or really anytime of the year, there are certain foods, supplements, and natural remedies that can help give your immune system the boost it needs to build a strong foundation for the future. This means you will get sick less frequently, and if you do get sick, your body should be able to better fight whatever virus invaded your system and recover more quickly.
It is important to note that any strong immune system begins with diet and lifestyle. Cutting out processed foods (including refined sugars, grains, and dairy), getting adequate sleep each night (ideally 7-10 hours), incorporating movement, and getting sunshine are great starting points. From there, I would be sure to include probiotic rich foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, etc), fruit and/or vegetables at every meal, healthy fats (coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, well sourced animal fats, etc), and bone broths. Also, your immune system will thank you for including fresh juices and smoothies with a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially vitamin C boosting fruits + veggies (think red and orange). Try this immune boosting smoothie!
Cod Liver Oil- During the winter months when our bodies don’t get enough sun exposure to create an adequate amount of vitamin D, I recommend a high quality cod liver oil supplement like this one. I take 2 capsules for maintenance or 5-10 capsules when I’m fighting an illness.
Probiotics- Along with incorporating fermented foods in your diet, I recommend taking a quality soil-based probiotic (like Latero Flora, Prescript Assist, or Primal Defense) every day for at least a month to build up a good gut flora, which is the foundation for a strong immune system. To grow a healthy gut flora, be sure you are getting enough prebiotics in your diet, as this is what the probiotics feed on to grow and reproduce. There are fancy supplements out there, but personally I believe if you are eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily (like leafy greens, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, garlic, onions, etc) you are getting plenty of soluble, prebiotic fiber for all of that good bacteria to feast on.
At the First Sign of an Illness
- Refined sugar
- Most dairy, but especially pasteurized dairy
- Processed foods
- Hot tea (specifically immune boosting herbal teas, such as, echinacea, elderflower, holy basil)
- Hot broth
- Warm water with lemon
- Extra rest + lots of fluids
- Raw apple cider vinegar– 1 tbsp in a cup of water 3x/day
- Elderberry syrup– 1 tbsp 3x/day
- Therapeutic doses of vitamin C- 500mg every hour until you reach bowel tolerance and then reduce to half doses every two hours until you are symptom free, followed by a daily maintenance dose of 500mg for 5-7 days after the illness subsides
- Nasal Rinse 2x/day for sinus issues
- Shots of lemon, ginger, cayenne, and turmeric 3x/day- juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 in knob of ginger (juiced or pressed through a garlic press), 1 in knob of fresh turmeric (juiced, pressed through garlic press, or a few dashes of dried turmeric), and a dash of cayenne.
- Cold Tonic or raw crushed garlic clove, 3x/day
- Warm Salt Water Gargle- dissolve 1/2 tsp sea salt in a few ounces of warm water, add an optional drop of oregano oil and gargle 2x/day
- Colloidal Silver (Follow package instructions and see this article on the safety of silver)
- Epsom Salt Baths (as long as your fever is under 104)- Prepare a hot bath with 2-4 cups of epsom salts and an optional 10 drops of lavender oil and soak for 20-40 minutes.
- Diffuse essential oils. I use this diffuser and this oil when I’m sick. Use my code ‘bloom’ for 10% off!
- Excessive use of antibiotics, which can weaken your immune system. If a round is necessary, follow it up with 2 full months of a probiotic supplement.
- Overuse of pain relievers and fever reducers, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and asprin. If trying to reduce a fever, remember a fever is your body’s natural response to a virus and is a positive sign your body is fighting the virus. Personally, I don’t try to fight any fever unless it’s over 104, or has been lingering for over 3 days.
I hope all of that information is helpful. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. Also, remember I am not a doctor and this information is based on personal research and experience. Here’s to a healthy 2015!
Disclaimer: The material on this blog is based on my own education, research, and personal experience and is not intended as medical or nutritional advice. Statements on this site have not been approved by the FDA. Readers are encouraged to conduct their own further research and are fully responsible for consulting a qualified health professional before starting any new diet, health program, or regarding any health concerns. Thank you for being responsible with your health.
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