School and activities are in full swing, temperatures are dropping, loved ones are gathering for holiday events, and suddenly everyone is sick. Cold and flu season is upon us.
If you’re looking for ways to avoid numerous trips to the doctor and relying on medications with a plethora of side effects, we’re here to help. There are many steps to naturally bolster immune systems and reduce the risk of getting sick.
In this blog, we will provide a range of holistic approaches and tips for how to stay healthy during the cold and flu season.
Eat a Nutrient-Rich Diet
A well-balanced diet is the cornerstone of good health, and it plays a crucial role in supporting your immune system.
Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin A, and zinc. Consider adding salads and soups to your weekly meal plan to help get a broad range of nutrients into your body.
Vitamin C is found in most citrus fruits and berries. This vitamin has been shown to prevent infections and boost immune cell function.
Zinc is found in nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Research shows that zinc plays a crucial role in the immune system, and those with a zinc deficiency are more susceptible to different pathogens.
Vitamin A is also known for reducing inflammation and enhancing immune system function. Leafy greens like kale and spinach, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, and bell peppers are all great sources of vitamin A,
Proper hydration is essential for overall health, and it becomes even more critical during cold and flu season.
Water and fluids can help regulate your body temperature, which is helpful when you have a fever. Water also helps your body digest foods and absorb key vitamins and minerals to help you stay healthy.
In addition, drinking plenty of fluids helps replace fluids your body loses when coughing, sneezing, vomiting, or experiencing episodes of diarrhea when sick.
Too much sugar can disrupt the delicate balance in your microbiome, so too much soda, sports drinks, or juice can be problematic. When possible, opt for decaffeinated, sugar-free herbal teas when sick. Tea is one of the oldest holistic cold remedies because it will keep you hydrated, soothe your throat, and has extra beneficial properties to support your immune system.
Sleep is crucial to a strong immune system.
While you sleep, your body is in repair and recovery mode, making it better equipped to fend off invaders.
Sleep also helps reduce stress and anxiety. Chronic stress can take a toll on your physical and mental health, causing you to get sick. We talk more about the connection between stress and your immune system below.
In general, 7-9 hours of sleep is recommended, but if you’re noticing signs of a cold or flu, consider a few hours of extra rest. Develop a bedtime routine and create a sleep-conducive environment to ensure consistent, restful sleep.
Chronic stress can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness.
Research showed that those who suffer consistent stress, whether from life events or perceived stress, were more likely to become infected with the common cold and other systems. Stress has also been shown to exacerbate common gut health issues and cause chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome to flare up.
Prioritizing self-care is a vital step in staying healthy. Incorporate stress-reduction techniques like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, exercise, or spending time in nature to help manage stress levels.
Practice Good Hygiene
Preventing the spread of germs is essential during cold and flu season — and good hygiene practices are key to minimizing spread. Hygiene is especially important when you are in close quarters and sharing common areas with others consistently, such as in an office or at school.
Key recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include:
- Washing hands frequently with soap and warm water
- Using hand sanitizer when soap is unavailable
- Avoiding close contact with others, especially if symptomatic
- Wiping down high-traffic areas, such as counters and door handles, frequently
Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth, as these are entry points for germs.
Go Beyond a Probiotic Supplement
A healthy gut is closely linked to a strong immune system. Research has shown that 70% of your immune system is located in your gut — a strong microbiome helps you fight off unwanted viruses and pathogens.
Somaya Life, the world’s first anthrobiotic, goes beyond a typical probiotic supplement. It has 10 targeted Smart StrainsTM of good bacteria, each specially chosen to regulate your immune and digestive system.
We sort our strains into four categories — enhancers, managers, inhibitors, and communicators. Inhibitors, in particular, help block unwanted pathogens that can harm the body and make you sick. Communicators also help improve collaboration between the gut and brain, helping to support your entire body, including immune system function.
Overall, it’s a safe and natural way to give your body an extra boost during cold and flu season.
- “11 Foods That Boost Your Immune System.” Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, 22 Dec. 2022, health.clevelandclinic.org/food-to-boost-your-immune-system/.
- Shankar AH, Prasad AS. Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection. Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Aug;68(2 Suppl):447S-463S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/68.2.447S. PMID: 9701160.
- Huang Z, Liu Y, Qi G, Brand D, Zheng SG. Role of Vitamin A in the Immune System. J Clin Med. 2018 Sep 6;7(9):258. doi: 10.3390/jcm7090258. PMID: 30200565; PMCID: PMC6162863.
- “Vitamin A.” The Nutrition Source, 7 Mar. 2023, www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-a/.
- Kawano, Yoshinaga, et al. “Sugar Disrupts Microbiome, Eliminates Protection against Obesity and Diabetes.” Columbia University Irving Medical Center, 29 Aug. 2022, www.cuimc.columbia.edu/news/sugar-disrupts-microbiome-eliminates-protection-against-obesity-and-diabetes.
- Holman, Tayla. “Can Stress Make You Sick?” Parkridge Health System, 26 Apr. 2021, parkridgehealth.com/blog/entry/can-stress-make-you-sick.
- “How Much Sleep Is Enough?” National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/sleep/how-much-sleep. Accessed 13 Oct. 2023.