8 Easy Ways to Boost Your Immune System During Cold & Flu Season
Author - Alyssa Rimmer
Feel a cold or flu coming on? Learn how to boost your immune system quickly. With these 8 easy tips, we'll show you how to boost your immune system so you can fight off the cold and flu this season.
It's the time of the year where we start to hear lots of sniffles. Whether it's people at your office, commuters on your way to work, your kids' classmates, or even your own family, cold and flu season is hard to avoid.
While we aren't able to prevent it 100% of the time, there are things we can do that naturally support our body's immune system and help us stay in tip-top shape. I'm of the belief that if I support my body, then my body will support me. I've been following this philosophy for years, and have never received a flu shot or gotten super sick.
SO… today I'm going to share how to boost your immune system with 8 easy tips. Hopefully, these tips will help you either prevent a cold completely OR help you fight it super quickly!
How to Boost Your Immune System Quickly
I want to start off by saying, there isn't really one magical thing that you can do that will immediately boost your immune system. That being said, there are quite a few things that will support your immune system and, if done consistently, will yield rapid results.
I'd also like to point out that if you feel like you have a cold or flu coming on, still use these tips and maybe even amp them up a little (except for #6) so that you can beat it quickly.
1. Dark Green Vegetables
I'm sure you've heard a million times that you, “need to eat your veggies” and when it comes to your immune system that's 100% accurate. Dark green vegetables – both leafy greens, as well as things like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc. – are super high in vitamins and minerals, which is exactly what our immune system needs. Dark greens are also high in antioxidants which help fight free radicals internally, and also support our liver.
Most likely a giant salad isn't going to sound that appealing, so here are some recipes to try that will help you amp up your dark green vegetable game and still eat something nourishing and delicious:
- Creamy Vegan Roasted Broccoli Salad
- Meal Prep Sesame Tofu Quinoa Bowls
- Super Healthy Green Detox Soup
- Roasted Broccoli Chowder
Just like veggies, fruits are packed with nutrients. During cold and flu season, focus more on fruits that contain lots of antioxidants as well as vitamin C. I like to stock up on frozen blueberries and blackberries to add to my smoothies, as well as citrus fruits like grapefruit, clementines, and lemons.
You can also buy those fruits in juice form, but I personally think it's always better to get them whole. For starters, juices are usually pasteurized so they've been heated on a high temperature which ends up killing a lot of the good for you nutrients. Second, juice is super high in sugar (even if it's just fruit), so if you can eat the actual fruit and get that added fiber you'll be better off.
3. Medicinal Mushrooms
Oh boy do I love medicinal mushrooms! I use medicinal mushrooms every single day in my morning matcha (or afternoon hot chocolates) and I think they're just the greatest. I wrote a whole post about the benefits of medicinal mushrooms, so if you want to learn more about why I think they're a great tool for health, check that out. For immune boosting, the medicinal mushrooms I like are chaga, he shou wu and reishi. I love Root & Bones (use code “simplyquinoa” for 15% off), as well as Sun Potion!
Here are some ideas for how to use medicinal mushrooms:
- matcha lattes
- golden milk
- hot chocolate/chai
- homemade nut butter
- or even energy balls!
4. Probiotics & Probiotic-Rich Foods
These are super important when it comes to nourishing your gut, but your gut is actually the main controller for the immune system. One of the best things we can do for our gut is to add in healthy bacteria through probiotics. The two main ways to get probiotics into your system are either through capsules or food.
I talked about some of my favorite probiotic rich foods in my post about the best types of food for your gut, but those include things like kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and more. And in terms of capsules, I like these ones from RenewLife.
Probably the most common herb for immunity is echinacea. I grew up with my mom giving my echinacea droppers whenever she heard the sniffles and I still keep a bottle in my bathroom. I also always have echinacea tea for the same reason.
But there are actually loads of other herbs that can be incredibly supportive for your immune system. Most of them you can find in both teas or you can go to a local natural food store and check in the supplement aisle for syrups or sprays. Here's a quick list of my favorite herbs for the immune system:
6. Exercise Regularly
Moving your body daily not only helps you sweat out toxins, but it can also potentially help flush out bacteria from your lungs and keep your lungs healthy. Exercise also helps your circulatory system and promotes good circulation which allows your cells and immune system substances to flow properly through your system so they can do their jobs more effectively.
Your regular exercise routine is great if you're feeling good, but if you're feeling like a cold/flu is coming, then you might want to take it a bit easier. Something like a hot yoga class (instead of heavy lifting/high cardio), a long walk, pilates. Something that isn't super hard on your body, but still gets your blood pumping and your blood circulating.
7. Get Adequate Sleep
Sleep, sleep, sleep. It's SOO important for your health. Not only does sleep help with stress management, but it also helps us stay motivated to move, gives us more energy, helps our metabolism stay regulated and ultimately can also help with weight loss.
On the immune system side, studies have shown that people who don't get adequate sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to an illness. That's because when we are sleeping, our immune system is releasing proteins that help fight infection and inflammation. Plus, when you're sleep deprived, the cells and antibodies in your body that fight infections are lowered. On average you should aim to get 7 – 8 hours of sleep per night as an adult, more for teenagers and children.
8. Stay Hydrated
There are so many reasons we need to stay properly hydrated. However when it comes to our immune system, drinking enough water is key in flushing out toxins and waste materials from the body so that your immune system is more effectively able to fight infections. When your system is clogged up with toxins, your immune system can't do its job.
Another reason that water is important is that it carries oxygen into our cells which allows our entire body to function properly. Without adequate hydration, we risk a host of issues. I recommend that you aim to drink at least half of your body weight (lbs) in ouches of water per day. So if you weighed 150lbs, you'd be drinking 75 ounces of water minimum.
How to Naturally Fight the Cold & Flu
Okay so what happens if you actually get the cold & flu? Aside from continuing to use these 8 tips, check out this post I wrote about 10 natural cold & flu remedies There are some really tasty, immune-boosting recipes in there too!