10 Natural Ways to Prevent Colds and the Flu
Inside: Avoid sickness this flu season with holistic remedies and habits! These natural ways to prevent colds and the flu are super easy–but they’ll go a long way towards keeping your family healthy.
I’ve never been a big fan of conventional medicine–especially antibiotics.
Even as a child, I avoided Tylenol if I could.
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 the following regimen to prevent colds and the flu for several years now. Since we began these natural ways to prevent colds and the flu, we’ve had much fewer incidences of illnesses in our home.
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, Brussels 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.
Related: What It’s Really Like to Have COVID (and Promising Immune Boosters That Can Actually Help)
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, 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.
Raw garlic is full of amazing health benefits–including being anti-viral. Consuming it helps boost the immune system and fight infections (source).
If eating it raw makes you squeamish, you can purchase odorless garlic capsules. But, first, check out these 7 ways to eat raw garlic. One of them might appeal to you!
Related: Common Essential Oils Mistakes
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 during the holidays!).
Related: 7 Must-Have Supplements That Will Boost Your Immune System
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)
My family takes a significant amount of Vitamin D3 supplements. We take them throughout the year but up our intake during the winter months.
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.
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. We’ve been using ours for many years now and keep it running constantly.
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.
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 public!
Related: How to Take a Detox Bath
Make some homemade chicken soup. Your grandma knew what she was doing when she made this a go-to cold and flu remedy!
We believe that good immunity begins in the gut, so we take a good probiotic daily.
The healthy bacteria in probiotics help to fight bad bacteria that have taken up residence in our gut. The best choice for consuming probiotics would be to eat probiotic-rich foods (like yogurt, fermented veggies, etc.), but some people are limited in this area because of food allergies. (Our family was dairy-free for a while, but we currently consume dairy–but not gluten.)
What are your suggestions for natural ways to prevent colds and the flu?
Check out these other posts from our archives on staying healthy during flu season:
- Our Winter Supplements Regimen
- The Ultimate Natural Remedies Roundup
- The Ultimate Guide to Building a Natural Medicine Cabinet
- Natural Cold Remedies: Alternatives to Conventional Cold Medication
Disclaimer: Although I am passionate about nutrition, natural living and alternative health issues, I am not a certified nutritionist, medical doctor, or practitioner 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.
Easiest thing we’ve done is using the Defense Lotion and Spray from Alma Naturals. So easy the kids use it too. We’ve cut our illnesses down to nearly nothing.
Never heard of it–thanks for sharing!
I agree with and do pretty much all you have mentioned. The one thing I did start doing about 4 months ago, is make kefir water as my probiotic. I must say I wished I would have started this years ago. I really believe it makes a huge difference in my immunity, with keeping good bacteria in my body, and it is so easy to do. Thanks for your site, I love it.
I need to try my hand at that!
What is the brand of the good probiotic you mentioned above?
Also, do you have a recommendation of a good prenatal vitamin? Or a couple recommendations?
Hi Jill! We use the Raw Garden of Life. We use Vitacost points to buy them…they can be pricey. Another option is to alternate an “ok” probiotic with a pricier one.
When I was pregnant with my 3rd, I took the Vitacost 42 Fruits and Veggies, which is supposedly a generic for Juice Plus, and their DHA with folic acid. I would definitely consult your OB/midwife since I am not a health expert.
What are the vitacost.com points you are talking about. The cost of prebiotic is expensive to me but need them.
I agree with everything mentioned. I would add that making a conscious effort to never touch one’s eyes, nose, or mouth may prevent a lot of viruses from ever gaining entrance into one’s body. It is almost impossible to avoid airborne germs, especially in close quarters, but if not inhaled the only other way these viruses gain entry is via these ports.
Amen! That is probably the best tip of all!
Where was this post last week when I was feeling so yucky?? 🙂 I carry antibacterial wipes in the car so when we are out, we wash as soon as we get in the car. You have shared great list of ideas, I have heard great things about Elderberry Syrup, and now feel empowered to try it! I am just like you in that we avoid medicine for as long as possible, these ideas will surely help next time the sicky’s try to invade… I am off to check out Vitacost (we get all our vitamins at Trader Joe’s…)
I wish we had a local Trader Joe’s! Hope you continue to feel empowered! That is one of my goals for this site–and your comment made me smile! 🙂
I always thought essential oils were weird…then my daughter got absolutely slammed by colds this winter. She’d had six colds by Christmas and they all went straight to her chest, keeping her up at night coughing (sometimes till she threw up). I took her to the doctor who thankfully ruled out asthma but really had no helpful suggestions. I finally bought some Thieves Oil from Young Living, mostly because I was willing to try anything by that point, and she has not been sick ONCE since we started using it. I am absolutely sold on essential oils now and looking forward to trying out some more!
I think they are pretty amazing! We do not overuse them, but I definitely pull them out in the winter and when the girls seem to be getting sick!
Leigh Ann @ Intentional By Grace
Thanks for including my post 7 Ways to Eat Raw Garlic. 🙂 This was the day my husband became famous on Pinterest – when he agreed to post for these shots. It’s a running joke in our home.
In all seriousness, garlic really is powerful. We use it for just about everything that ails us!
Bahahhaaha!! That post will live in blogland forever!
Great post! Very informative. I do have to ask though how you manage to afford all of the supplements, essential oils, probitics, ect. I clicked on all of them because I have been wanting to try out some of the methods, but they are very pricy. I’ve read your posts about frugality and living on a tight budget, so any tips on where to start if I’m interested in trying out some of the essential oils, supplements, and probiotics you have mentioned?
Hi Kelsey! My biggest tips are to shop around (for example, Amazon vs. Vitacost) and to join referral programs. I joined the Vitacost referral program, and when I refer a new customer, THEY get $10 off AND I get $10 off, so it’s a win-win. I also don’t overuse supplements. I know some people who seem to live on them, but we use them mainly in the winter and some of them we just use IF we feel like we might be getting the slightest cold symptoms (like the echinacea). As far as essential oils go–I have been considering writing a post about this…but it’s controversial. Some say there are just a few brands that are truly “pure.” I am able to barter to get some good brands from friends who sell them, but when I couldn’t, I would just use the best priced ones on Vitacost (and I don’t typically use them internally) and MAKE THEM LAST. What I mean by that is that it takes just a very little to work. I have seen friends overuse oils and supplements and have to keep buying more and more. I literally make one bottle last a whole year because I just use the oils sparingly. I hope that helps!!
Great list! Question for you — can you share a link to the Creamy Chicken & Rice Soup image?
Air purifier for dust
With air purifier, I spent some money on purchasing it but I got more with it. not only it has cleaned my in house air but also helped me in my air related decease like asthma and allergy.