Cold and flu season is here, unfortunately, and I have a few suggestions to help you avoid it! If your immune system is strong enough you should be able to fight whatever bug comes your way. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the best ways to boost your immune system! Here are some foods and supplements to increase during the colder months ahead:

GINGER: Fresh is best. Ginger can be used in a tea (see my recipe for Flu Fighting Lemon Ginger Tea below!), stir-fries, curries, soups, salad dressings, etc. Ginger is an anti-inflammatory (great for relieving mucous build-up), and a powerful antioxidant to fight free radicals in the body.

GARLIC: It’s antiviral, antibacterial, and it increases cell activity. Use garlic in dips, dressings and if you’re already sick, crush one garlic clove and add it to honey for a natural Cough Syrup-like remedy.

ANTIOXIDANTS: Having a rainbow of different colours in your diet during the colder months can be hard. But with a variety of colours, flavours, and textures, you will be sure to get lots of antioxidants to fight free radicals, which can cause cell damage and even cell death. Some great winter sources of antioxidants are purple or sweet potatoes, pomegranates, beets, apples, and cranberries.

VITAMIN C with BIOFLAVONOIDS: Since our bodies can’t produce our own Vitamin C, and we use A LOT, we need to supplement it during periods of stress and cold and flue season. When we are stressed, our adrenal glands use up more Vitamin C, as well as when we are fighting to stay healthy. Some great winter sources of Vitamin C are brussels sprouts, kale, turnip greens and clementines.

VITAMIN D3: Since we aren’t getting much Vitamin D from the sun any more, we need to supplement. Vitamin D deficiencies are very common in the colder months since we don’t have the sun on our skin directly, which is needed to absorb it effectively.

PROBIOTICS: Probiotics are important to feed the healthy gut bacteria in our systems and help boost your immunity, improve digestion, and help to eliminate toxins efficiently. Some probiotic foods include ginger beer, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, and yogurt.

ECHINACEA: Echinacea has antiviral and antibacterial properties, and increases cell production and cell activity. This is very helpful when fighting off foreign invaders!

AVOID SUGAR!: Processed and refined sugars suppress the immune system for up to 8 hours after consumption! That’s a long time! Natural sugars found in fruit and vegetables are fine… I’m only talking about the ones found in a package of sliced white bread, peanut butter and jam, or in preserved orange juice. If you are feeling like something sweet, go for raw, unpasteurized honey, which is a powerful boost to the immune system. It contains natural antibiotic and antibacterial properties to support healing, reduce swelling, and prevent infections. 1 tablespoon a day is all you need to reap these SWEET benefits.

If it’s too late and you’ve already got a cold or the flu, it’s never too late to support your immune system and use these tips to get you feeling better in no time. My favourite tea this time of year and when I’m sick is a ‘Flu Fighting’ Lemon Ginger Tea – give it a try!

‘Flu Fighting’ Lemon Ginger Tea

1-inch of fresh garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp. raw honey
5 cloves
¼ tsp. cinnamon

Add ingredients to a small pot and fill half-way with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!

About Laura Harvey
Laura Harvey is a Holistic Nutritionist and owner of Fresh Senses. She has over 14 years of experience cooking and working in the food industry. Her mission is to share inspiration on how whole foods and a healthy lifestlye can provide you with increased energy, improved mood and confidence, and relieve symptoms and health issues that are causing an overall imbalance in your body.