This post brought to you by Fellowes . All opinions are 100% mine.
I’ve never been a big fan of conventional medicine–especially antibiotics. Even as a child I avoided Tylenol if I could!
And since learning more about natural living and healing, I’ve become even more wary of pumping our bodies full of laboratory-engineered “medications” in the name of “staying healthy.”
The first line of defense in avoiding medications is to stay well in the first place. My family has been following this illness prevention regime the past two winters. I hope these help you as well!
Natural Ways to Prevent Colds and the Flu
1. Vitamin C
Studies are inconsistent as to whether or not Vitamin C actually speeds the healing process; however, it is well-known that the vitamin is an antioxidant and can help prevent disease (source).
Obviously, your best bet is to consume foods naturally high in this vitamin. Citrus fruits, strawberries, spinach, kale, peppers, broccoli, papaya, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, pineapple, kiwi fruit and mangoes are all loaded with this vitamin!
If you are not able to get adequate Vitamin C via food sources, take a good Vitamin C supplement. We typically add in a supplement at the very first sign of illness. I get all of our supplements from Vitacost.com (use this code to get $10 off your first order there).
2. Elderberry Syrup
Elderberries are a natural immunity booster.
You can find the berries made into a syrup at most health stores or online. Or, you can try making your own. Stacy over at Humorous Homemaking enhances the flavor of her homemade elderberry syrup by adding blueberries to it.
Some people love the taste of the syrup, but many hate it. We give our girls a children’s formula that we get at Vitacost.com, and my husband and I take these elderberry capsules that we get from there. The capsules allow us the health benefits without having to taste it.
Image by Intentional by Grace
4. Essential Oils
Essential oils have become my first line of defense against any ailment that has plagued our household over the past couple years. Some tests have shown that essential oils are so strong that viruses cannot live in their presence (source).
One of our favorites is a a super antibacterial blend of oils. When we were in a place where we could not afford to buy special blends of oils, we made our own.
You can diffuse the oils into the air, add some oils to a warm bath or rub the diluted oil on your feet. We use a homemade disinfectant spray made with essential oils–as well as a homemade hand soap (peppermint is our favorite this time of the year!).
Image by SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget
5. Vitamin D3
The best source of Vitamin is the sun, but most people get very little natural sunshine during the winter. In fact, 50-70% Americans may be deficient in this vital vitamin!
According to Dr. Mercola, “Vitamin D fights infections, including colds and the flu, as it regulates the expression of genes that influence your immune system to attack and destroy bacteria and viruses.” (source)
I would consult with your trusted healthcare professional to determine the best amount of Vitamin D3 for you.
Studies have shown that taking this herb can help boost your immune system, but the results have been mixed as to whether or not it actually prevents or shortens the life of a cold (source).
I previously took echinacea drops daily during the cold and flu season until I discovered that it’s really best to use echinacea at the first sign of illness.
Image by Fellowes® AeraMaxTM Air Purifier
7. Air Purifier
Indoor air is up to five times more polluted than outdoor air, and our homes are teeming with airborne germs and viruses, the leading causes of cold and flu. Our family uses a Fellowes AeraMax™ DX-55 to “clear the air” and reduce the presence of germs and viruses.
I love that the air purifier has an automatic filter change indicator (because, let’s be honest–I would forget to change it!) as well as an automatic sensor that monitors the air quality and automatically adjusts the fan speed to keep our air purified.
Fellowes AeraMax™ DX-55 actually recommends a process to help prevent the flu:
1. Wash and sanitize hands regularly
2. Wipe down surfaces with powerful disinfectants
3. Purify the air indoors
8. Hand Washing
This is a no-brainer, but make sure you are washing your hands frequently with soap and water.
We do not use antibacterial soap in our home because we believe these can actually lower our natural immune responses. Instead, we use own own homemade foaming handsoap. We make sure to wash before meals and especially when we come home from being out in the public!
Make some homemade chicken soup. Your grandma knew what she was thinking when she made this a go-to cold and flu remedy!
A 2012 study theorized that “probiotics may have two immune system-boosting benefits: fortifying the integrity of the gut wall and revving up activity of phagocytes, disease-fighters, such as white blood cells, that engulf and absorb bacteria and other foreign particles.” (source)
We believe that good immunity begins in the gut, so we take a good probiotic daily. The best choice would be to consume probiotic-rich foods (like yogurt, fermented veggies, etc.), but we are limited in this area because of food allergies.
What are your suggestions for natural ways to prevent colds and the flu?
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Disclaimer: Although I am passionate about nutrition, natural living and alternative health issues, I am not a certified nutritionist, medical doctor or practitioners of any kind. I am not licensed to counsel anyone in medical matters, nor may we be held responsible for any course of action that you choose in regards to your own health or that of your family. Please remember that what I am sharing is the result of my own experiences, but may not necessarily be the right course of action for you. Please consult with your trusted healthcare provider before making any decisions about your health.