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8 Vital Tips for Cold and Flu Season

8 Vital Tips for Cold and Flu Season

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Leaky Nose

Winter is firmly upon us. Unfortunately, the pretty decorations, good food, presents, and ugly sweater parties have passed, and we’re now into the portion of winter that’s often characterized by sore throats, headaches, fatigue, and frightening amounts of mucous.

In case you haven’t guessed it, it’s cold and flu season.

Catching a cold or flu can definitely ruin a good time, but lucky for us, MD Alejandra Carrasco has some tips on how to boost your immune system for the full frontal assault it’s going to face during the holidays.

Photo of a person washing hands with soap

Tip #1: Wash Your Hands Often

Look at everything you touch as something someone sick has touched already. This may seem a little neurotic to you, but your body will be thanking you.

Washing your hands frequently with plain soap is highly effective and easy.

Just be sure to steer clear of soaps and hand sanitizers that contain triclosan, a chemical that inhibits the healthy, immune-boosting bacteria in your gut.

Photo of a fruit arranged in a form of rainbow

Tip #2: Eat the Rainbow

Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables every day provides the antioxidants and phytochemicals your immune system needs to properly handle threats.

Think of them as samurai swords for your white blood cells.

And besides, doesn’t it just give you that gut feeling, pardon the pun, that this is the way you’re supposed to be eating?

Photo of a chocolate cake on a fork

Tip #3: Decrease Your Sugar Intake

Sugary foods can cause inflammation, a condition in which your immune system actually attacks your own body tissue.

This can prevent your immune system from being able to react properly to external threats, so be strategic with your biological resources and stay away from sugar.

If you absolutely need a sugar fix, try to opt for a more natural choice, such as honey or a piece of fruit.

Photo of garlic cloves

Tip #4: Load Up on Garlic

Garlic contains allicin and allion, two compounds with strong detoxification and antiviral properties.

Chopping garlic helps release these nutrients, so cutting it up and adding it to your favorite dishes is a great way to avoid getting sick.

If you’re feeling brave, make a garlic-esque tea by steeping chopped garlic in boiling water for a few minutes.

Probiotics Seal

Tip #5: Consume Probiotics

It’s been widely studied and at this point recognized that as much as 80% of your immune system is housed in your gut.

Keeping those gut bugs happy with probiotic supplements will help ensure a non-congested, no-headache cold and flu season.

Adults should aim to take at least 50 billion CFUs of multi-strain probiotics daily, and kids should take at least 25 billion. Make sure to choose brands that don’t add in unnecessary fillers or potentially allergenic ingredients.

Photo of vitamin D word written on beach sand

Tip #6: Supplement with Vitamin D3 

Vitamin D3 is vital to a properly functioning immune system.

You might believe that you’re in perfect health, eating a ton of veggies, and have gut bacteria that could digest steel. But if your vitamin D levels are low, none of that is really true.

In spite of the fact that it’s labeled a vitamin, it’s actually technically a hormone. As such, vitamin D is a crucial piece of the gut-hormone equation.

Adults should start with 5,000 IUs daily, and kids should start with 2,000 IUs. Another way of calculating vitamin D intake is 1,000 IUs daily for 25 lbs. of body weight, up to 10,000 IUs.

Photo of fresh orange with letter C cut into it

Tip #7: Supplement with Vitamin C

As if you didn’t know this one?

Vitamin C has been hailed as the ultimate cold and flu season weapon for years now, and for good reason.

It’s actually a powerful antioxidant that helps your immune system fight off viral and bacterial infections.

Adults should start with 1,000mg/day, and kids should start with 500mg/day.

Photo of bowl with elderberries

Tip #8: Take Elderberry Extract

Elderberry is a fruit that is high in antioxidants and particularly effective in combating the flu virus.

Not only can it reduce the length of the flu (from 7 to 4 days in one study), it can also prevent the virus from spreading throughout your body.

For daily maintenance/preparation, adults should take 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of liquid elderberry extract daily, and children should take 1 teaspoon (5 ml). During an infection, adults should take 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of liquid elderberry extract four times a day, and children should take 1 teaspoon (5 ml) four times a day.

Photo of a sneezing man in a Santa Claus Suit


“By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.”

-Benjamin Franklin

The tips Dr. Carrasco offers are not hard to follow. Don’t be the one kicking yourself because all your friends are out skiing and skating while you’re stuck in bed watching a bad rom-com and doing shots of Nyquil.

Take some time, take care of yourself, and prepare your immune system for the worst, while you can confidently expect the best.