The key to beating the flu is to not get it in the first place. Easier said than done, right? Here are a few things we try to do all year long, and especially when the flu is going around.
1. Get Plenty of Sleep
This one is pretty obvious and I’m sure you’ve heard it many times, but do you actually take the advice? Sleep is restorative and getting a good amount of sleep at night can make a huge difference in your body’s ability to fight off illness. Research shows that sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or disease.1 Having trouble sleeping? Try using a homemade lavender pillow spray.
2. Stay Hydrated
Another obvious one, I realize, but when you take away the cups of coffee, soda, juice, and milk, how many cups of plain water are you drinking each day? Aim for water to make up at least 50% of your beverages each day to keep your body well-hydrated. Drinking plenty of water daily will help to naturally detoxify your body.2
3. Go Outside
Fresh air and sunshine really make a difference. Spending as little as 20 minutes outside each day can boost your vitamin D levels significantly.3
4. Take Vitamin D3
Deficiencies in vitamin D3 are more common in the winter because we spend less time outside. A study in 2010 showed that children taking vitamin D3 were 42% less likely to get the flu.4 Taking 5,000 – 8,000 IUs (for adults, depending on body weight) of vitamin D3 daily could reduce your risk of catching the flu by almost half!5
5. Reduce Stress
The holidays can be a major source of stress, but it’s important to stay calm. Stress can impair the immune system, making you more vulnerable to illness.6 When you feel stressed, take a few minutes to pray, meditate, exercise, take a bath, go for a walk, or do something you enjoy that will bring down your stress levels. Taking just a few minutes to reduce stress now will save you a lot of sick time (and more stress) later!
6. Avoid Sugar
I know. This one’s probably the most difficult, especially with all the holiday goodies tempting us! However, sugar suppresses the immune system, meaning your body’s ability to fight off illness is weakened.7 Sugar can also inhibit absorption of vitamins and minerals!8 Clearly it’s best to avoid sugar as much as possible.
7. Eat Garlic
Fresh garlic is a potent antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal agent. It is also possibly the tastiest item on this list! Studies show that garlic can be effective for preventing common colds and reducing recovery time!9 Eat garlic daily for best results. You can also make a garlic poultice to reduce fevers and ease coughing and congestion.
8. Take Probiotics
Have you heard that your immune system is in your gut? Due in part to the over-prescription of antibiotics, many of us are lacking the good bacteria needed to maintain a healthy gut flora. The good bacteria aid digestion and nutrient absorption and contribute to immune function.10 Probiotics (live bacteria) can be found in many foods like yogurt, kefir, traditionally prepared sauerkraut, and other fermented foods. Since these foods are no longer common in our culture, many people opt to take a probiotic supplement.
9. Take Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO)
I consider Fermented Cod Liver Oil an essential part of our health routine. In addition to being beneficial to your overall health, it is a potent immune system supporter.11 It’s important to choose a high quality FCLO like Green Pasture’s.
10. Use Essential Oils
Essential oils are a must-have in our home. Many essential oils can support the body’s natural defenses. Essential oils that I like to keep on hand: Oregano, Frankincense, Lemon, Cinnamon Bark, and Eucalyptus. You can read more about how I use these oils as well as where to get them here: Getting Started with Essential Oils.
11. Take Elderberry Syrup
In 2011, researchers at Justus-Liebig University in Geissen, Germany reported that a concentrated liquid extract of black elderberries inhibited the growth of influenza A and B viruses and bacteria associated with upper respiratory tract infections.12 Elderberry syrup is mild-tasting and inexpensive to purchase, or you can easily make your own elderberry syrup!
Regular exercise may also be helpful for cold and flu prevention, according to a study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.13 Researchers aren’t sure yet why it is effective, but it might be because it reduces stress, improves sleep, and typically involves going outdoors (coincidentally all items on this list)! These are the remedies and preventative measures that our family takes to prevent cold and flu.
Do you have any others you would add to the list?
Disclaimer: The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on this website. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.
Sources 1. Links Between Immune Function and Sleep 2. How Drinking Spring or Filtered Water Can Improve Your Health 3. How Much Sunshine Does it Take to Make Enough Vitamin D? 4. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren 5. Study Shows Vitamin D Cuts Flu by Nearly 50% 6. More Evidence That Stress is Major Factor for Infections 7. Eating Sugar Suppresses the Immune System 8. Dietary Fructose Inhibits Intestinal Calcium Absorption and Induces Vitamin D Insufficiency in CKD 9. Preventing the Common Cold with a Garlic Supplement: a Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Survey 10. Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics 11. FAQs: All About Fermented Cod Liver Oil and Why I Don’t Take Fish Oil 12. New Research On Black Elderberries Shows Activity Against Flu Viruses And Respiratory Tract Bacteria 13. Can exercise and meditation prevent cold and flu?