10 Ways To Fight A Cold or Flu Naturally

Every year, cold and flu season arrives unannounced. According to the CDC, 111 million work days and $7 billion are lost each year due to influenza. That says nothing about the number of days of school missed by kids and teens or how many additional days are lost due to colds (which are not necessarily due to the influenza virus).

That being said, it's important to stay healthy and if you do get sick, you'll want to recover as quickly as you can so you can get back to your life. These tips are my top 10 tips to help you beat a cold or the flu no matter the time of year!

10 Ways to Fight a Cold or Flu Naturally

1. TURMERIC

Turmeric has been used in Eastern culture as a healing spice for almost 4,000 years. It’s full of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory compounds that have been shown to help improve your immune system and fight infection. My favorite way to use turmeric besides adding it to everything I can (rice, ground meat, eggs) is to drink this Turmeric Tonic

2. WHOLE, REAL FOODS

If you are a regular reader, you know what I mean by whole or "real" food. But let me take a moment to explain for those that may not know what I mean. Real food is food that is found in nature and with the least amount of processing before it gets to your table. This food keeps us nourished and healthy and free of many diseases.

These are foods like apples, carrots, nuts, seeds, and organic, pasture-raised meats. Food that isn't full of pesticides or chemicals. Food that you could grow (or raise) yourself if you had the time and/or space.

If you’re still new or transitioning into whole food lifestyle, ease in simply by incorporating more of these foods and fewer foods from factories. Eating a variety of real foods will give your body all the nutrients it needs to function properly and stay healthy. 

3. GET THOSE GREENS IN!

You should aim to get at least 5-6 servings of vegetables a day. I challenge you to make 2 or 3 of those servings as dark leafy greens. It may seem like a lot at first, so if you are just starting out simply add in one extra veggie serving a day. 

The antioxidants contained within many green veggies are anti-inflammatory as well as having antibacterial and antiviral properties. They can also help give you an energy boost. 

4. STAY HYDRATED

Drinking water is often overlooked and undervalued when it comes to health. It is especially difficult to remember to drink enough water when the weather gets cooler and we are sweating less. Our bodies still require the same amount of water, even if we feel like drinking less (we just don't have to replace as much due to loss from sweat).  

5. SLEEP AT LEAST 7-8 HOURS EVERY NIGHT

Sleeping is incredibly important for the body to rebuild, restore, and keep the immune system healthy. So many of us don't get enough sleep on a regular basis, making us more prone to getting sick. Lack of sleep is also associated with many undesirable health conditions. Getting enough sleep regularly is a key to not getting sick, but it's also important to get plenty of rest if you do get sick. You can read about using essential oils to help you get more restful sleep as well as some other simple tips for better sleep here.  

6. HOT TEA, BROTH, OR SOUP

Hot teas like green tea, oolong tea, red (rooibos) teas contain the most antioxidants and are  low in caffeine (because, remember in #5 where you needed sleep?). Homemade broths are the best to consume such as vegetable broths, bone broth, or stews. Here is an easy and delicious recipe for bone broth. 

7. EXERCISE

Get moving every day, even if you just go for a walk around your neighborhood. Keeping your body moving will help to keep your immune system healthy (as well as the rest of your body). Also, sweating through our skin, which is one of our largest detoxification organs, is beneficial, especially when you are sick or think you are getting sick.

8. HERBS, SPICES, & ESSENTIAL OILS

Foods that are nutrient dense and may help fight inflammation and bacteria include: honey, raw garlic, coconut oil, blueberries, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, mustard, green and oolong teas, cranberries, and chili peppers/cayenne.

Herbs like echinacea, lemon balm, St. John's wort, feverfew, and ginger can be effective in fighting illness. Melaleuca (tea tree) oil, oregano oil, lavender oil, lemon oil, and rosemary oil all have antibacterial and antiviral properties and when used properly, can help support a healthy immune system. 

When using any herbal remedies it is important to consult your healthcare provider as they can interact with medications and are unsafe if used improperly. For essential oils, remember that less is more and quality matters. Learn more about essential oils here. 

9. STRESS MANAGEMENT

Stress that is out of control can be very harmful to your health. Our mental and emotional health plays a key role in our physical health as well as with our immune systems. Take some time to relax, recharge, and manage stress daily. I wrote a blog post called 3 Ways Stress is Holding You Back and it includes some ways that you can manage your stress and a free download to help you decrease your stress levels.

10. EAT LIGHT

Make sure that you don’t overload your digestive system with heavy foods. They will give you stomach issues, but also take a very long time to digest. Overeating is the culprit for feeling lethargic and worn out an hour or two after meals, be sure you’re not burdening your digestive system with eating too much, too fast, with too many combinations. A healthy digestive system and gut is a healthy immune system!