* Make sure that you are eating well. Your personal diet alone is the number one way in which you can improve your immune system. It is more challenging in the wintertime as fresh local produce is harder to come by, but there are still a good supply of fruits and vegetables available at your local marketplace in the fall and winter months. Broccoli, citrus fruit, squash and greens are several which come to mind, but there are plenty more in most places. If you have difficulty finding fresh produce in your area, frozen fruits and vegetables are also a good option for you to ensure that you are eating well.
* Probiotics are a source of good bacteria, so make sure that they are in your daily diet as well. You can find natural probiotics in food sources such as Yogurt, Buttermilk, Kefir, Tempeh, Miso, Sauerkraut, Kim Chi, and Brewer’s Yeast. You can also use probiotic supplements which claim to add beneficial bacteria to your digestive system, but some people don’t believe that these work as well as their natural counterparts. The naturally occurring probiotics and supplements with the live and active cultures help you to maintain your immune system health and are key components of it, as the good bacteria attack and destroy unwanted pathogens.
* Get a good old fashioned flu shot. These may not be for everyone, but they are another good way to ward off the flu especially if you are at high risk. There are flu shots nearly everywhere this cold and flu season and the locations are abundant, with many options to choose from. For more information about the flu shots or to find locations near you you can visit our article Get Your Flu Shots and Find Flu Shot Locations here. This is a good alternative solution if you are at high risk, or live with, or care for someone whom is at high risk, so you don’t expose them to the virus as well.
Herbal Supplements and Remedies
* Astragalus Root is a lesser-known but very effective immune-enhancing herb, as it has a history of use as an herbal medicine. It has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries and it is particularly effective against flu. You can take astragalus throughout the fall and winter months, or when you feel symptoms coming on. The sliced root simmered in water is the traditional Chinese way to ingest this herb, but it is also available in tinctures and capsules as supplements if you can’t find the roots themselves. Astragalus is typically taken in a combination with other herbal supplements, and when it is used appropriately, it is very safe and has few side effects. Pregnant or nursing women, however, should NOT USE astragalus root, or if you have an immune system disease, known as autoimmune disease, you should not take this herbal supplement either. Avoid overusing this herb, as more is not better! Very high doses of this herb may act to suppress the immune system and not enhance it, so follow the label and use it wisely!
* Echinacea is an old favorite from the American Indians that is believed to help in boosting your immune system. It’s also quite popular, but don’t let that stop you from trying it. Echinacea should not be taken all the time, however as it loses its effectiveness after a few weeks. The best way to give your immune system a lift with echinacea is right at the onset of cold symptoms, or after you have been exposed to someone who has a cold, and only take it for a week or two at the most. You should specifically look for echinacea supplements or tinctures that are made from the root itself or the root and aerial parts combined. For the best results from echinacea, you should get the combination of echinacea along with Golden Seal. I have personally found that echinacea alone is not so good, and doesn’t really give that much protection or make the symptoms go away that much faster. With the combination of echinacea-golden seal I have discovered that I had much better response time in reducing or eliminating the symptoms and getting rid of it faster. It is also a good way for boosting your immune system during those times when you are ill.
* Garlic is another common kitchen herb that helps to reduce the risk of catching colds or the flu. If you are familiar with the famous garlic breath, usually after an Italian meal, then you know that this potent herb likes to reside and release its active compounds in the respiratory tract – right where you need it during the wintertime. Garlic supplements as well as fresh garlic are both effective, but you should check the ingredients of supplements first. Again, as with any supplement, don’t overdue it as too much garlic can irritate the digestive tract, if you haven’t found that out already. It is also proven that the medicinal properties and benefits of garlic are strongest when it is raw and crushed of finely chopped. Cooked garlic cloves are almost useless as a medicine, as they lose most of their medicinal value due to the heat, but the milder taste makes it more pleasing to the palate. Garlic may also interfere with some prescription drugs, so consult with your doctor if you have prescriptions.
* Ginger is an herb you probably have in your kitchen, and it is very handy during the old and flu season! As it is a warming herb, it is very effective in knocking out a fever, and also makes it effective at increasing blood flow. These warming effects also make it a natural decongestant and antihistamine, making Ginger a perfect remedy for colds! Although you can use dried ginger and powdered ginger for these natural health benefits, fresh ginger is always preferred. It is readily available in most supermarkets and specialty markets. Pieces of the rhyzome can be sliced off for use and the remainder should be wrapped and stored in the refrigerator where it should keep for about 3 weeks as long as it is not fully peeled. Ginger is affordable and has both anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties to it. Directions to drink it as a tea, simply make a tea by steeping about 5 slices of ginger in hot water, and if you like, enjoy it with a little raw honey added to it. You can drink ginger daily if you like, or, if you prefer, ginger is also an excellent addition to many dishes and is even better when combined with garlic, but remember, cooked garlic loses most of it’s medicinal qualities when cooked.
We hope that Boosting Your Immune System For Cold And Flu Season helps you to maintain your health this fall and winter and avoid catching those nasty illnesses that love to infect us each year!