The immune system is what helps us fight virus and bacteria and keeps us from getting sick. During this flu season and cold weather, it's important to give our immune system a boost. Here are 9 natural ways to keep the flu away:
- Drink ginger tea. Ginger is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, relieves pain, and aids digestion. To make tea, simmer a 1-inch strip in 2 cups filtered water for about 10 min and then enjoy with some lemon juice.
- Load up on Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that boosts the immune system. It helps to prevent a cold/flu and also helps get rid of it. Foods high in vitamin C include dark leafy greens (kale, collard greens, chard), citrus fruits, brussels sprouts, and broccoli.
- Garlic. Garlic is strongly an anti-bacterial and anti-virus ingredient. Eating it raw (uncooked) provides the most health benefits, but cooking with it is also good. If you can take the strong raw taste, chop it up and throw it on your salads, cooked vegetables, cooked meats, and even smoothies. Otherwise, add to pan towards the end of cooking to expose to heat for only a short period of time.
- Get enough sleep and manage stress. Lack of sleep puts stress on our body and stress weakens our immune system. Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night without interruptions. Things you can do to help deal with stress are: take a walk/hike, drink tea, listen to calming music, read a book, yoga, exercise, meditate, take deep breaths, draw/write, take a hot bath, and prioritize your life.
- Cook with spices. Spices like cinnamon, turmeric, and cayenne pepper are anti-inflammatory and help relieve pain and fight health problems.
- Eat probiotics. Probiotics are live cultures that live mostly in our gut. These are good bacteria that help fight off the bad bacteria. Feeding the gut with good bacteria helps heal it and strengthens our immune system. Get probiotics by eating fermented foods such as raw sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir(lactose-free), and kim chi.
- Avoid refined sugar and dairy. Refined sugar (including alcohol) is what feeds the bad bacteria in our gut and allows it to replicate. Refined sugar also weakens our immune system and causes inflammation in the body. Let your sugar come from natural sources such as fresh fruit, honey (good for sore throat and cough), dates, and root vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, squash/pumpkin, and beets. Dairy is also something you might want to avoid if having symptoms of a cold/flu because it creates mucus in the body and only makes things worse.
- Drink unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar is great for many things. Some benefits are detoxifying the body, feeding the gut with good bacteria, and curing a sore throats, sinus infections, headaches, and the flu. Mix 2 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with some filtered water and drink slowly. For a sore throat, gargle apple cider vinegar in the back of your throat then spit out and repeat a few more times.
- My favorite remedy - "Voo-doo Juice." I learned this tea from my mom and it's what I immediately go to if I feel a cold approaching. It is packed with immune supporting ingredients and it really does the trick. I add 2 cloves crushed garlic, 2-inch piece of ginger, about 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or more if you can take it), and 4 cups filtered water to a small pot and simmer for about 10 minutes. Filter tea into a mug and enjoy with a bit of raw honey.
Don't forget to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and get lots of fluids from water, hot tea, and chicken or vegetable soup.