Vitamin D3, even when taken in low daily dosages, has been found to slash your risk of developing the flu by 42%.
Herbal flu remedies
Herbs can soothe the coughs and pain of the flu. Taking these herbs daily during flu season can build immunity. Taking them when you have the flu can reduce the symptoms and even shorten the duration of the flu. Herbs can reduce your fever, soothe a sore throat, and calm a stomach ache. Drink a few cups of herb tea daily to stave off and prevent the flu. Try some of the suggested herbs below for flu prevention and flu symptoms relief.
- Peppermint tea or extract can be inhaled to clear mucus from the nose. Peppermint tea also produces sweat and helps the body sweat out a fever, as well as reduce nasal congestion.
- Echinacea boosts immunity and can reduce the severity of symptoms of the flu. It is best taken daily during flu season, before you come down with the flu, to build a strong immune system.
- Elder flowers and elder berries have an antiviral as well as antibacterial function. Elder can also help break a fever.
- Garlic can help heal the lungs and build immunity. Garlic capsules can be purchased and taken daily to prevent the flu. Take care, because garlic has been shown to have interactions with some pharmaceutical drugs. Garlic can cause burping in some people. Another folk tradition is the use of garlic for ear aches. A fresh garlic clove, cut in half can be squeezed onto a large cotton ball and placed in the outer portion of the ear (like an ear plug) to relieve earaches.
- Boneset is another herb that can be used to treat fevers. It has been used by Native American traditional medicine for this. Its name comes from its ability to quickly heal bones and mend fractures.
- Sage treats sore throats. Add the extract to warm water or gargle with warm tea.
- Chamomile treats congestion or an upset stomach during the flu. You can also inhale the steam from a cup of chamomile tea. It’s also a good sleep aid, and can help induce sleep during the sleepless, restless time of the flu.
Foods that Fight the Flu
- Chicken Soup
Not only does chicken soup provide the fluids you need to help fight off viruses, but it also reduces the inflammation that triggers symptoms and leads to more colds. It’s not clear which ingredient provides the most benefit, but researchers believe its the combination of all the healthy vegetables and chicken that soothes symptoms.
- Citrus Fruits
Vitamin C, most commonly found in citrus fruits, is an antioxidant that can reduce cold symptoms by 23 percent, studies have found. Vitamin C can be found from supplements or from citrus fruits, red bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, papaya, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. For some people, high amounts of vitamin C can cause digestive problems, so cut back on your dose if symptoms arise.
- Garlic, Onions, and Leeks
Garlic and onions combined contain dozens of broad-spectrum antiseptic and immunity-boosting compounds. Another plus with garlic is it helps open clogged sinuses.
Ginger contains chemicals called sesquiterpenes that specifically target rhinoviruses, the most common family of cold viruses, as well as substances that suppress coughing. It’s also a natural pain and fever reducer and a mild sedative, so it can help you rest when you’re sick. Adding a couple of tablespoons of shredded gingerroot to your tea can do the trick, but you can also look for ginger chews or real ginger ale (most of the canned stuff has very little real ginger).
Put raw honey on a burn as soon as possible to speed healing of cuts and scrapes. Honey’s natural antiseptic properties allow it to work a bit like hydrogen peroxide. Because it coats your throat, it’s a great cold- and flu-friendly sore throat reliever, and its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties help fight infections from viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Buckwheat honey has the highest antioxidant levels; the clover honey in supermarkets has the least. Warning: Don’t give honey to children under 1 year of age. Their immune systems aren’t developed enough to ward off infantile botulism, which is carried in honey spores. Get honey from a local bee farmer, NOT from the store.
Yogurt contains a bacterium called Lactobacillus reuteri that has been found to block the replication of viruses that invade your body when you get sick. Not all brands carry that particular strain of beneficial bacteria, so look for a brand that does. Organic brands are the best.
- Selenium-Rich Foods
Selenium is a mineral that helps boost your immunity. The average Brazil nut contains about 70 micrograms of selenium. Having enough selenium in your body increases its production of cytokines, which help remove the flu virus. You can get your selenium through Brazil nuts and seafood, such as lobster, oysters, clams, crabs, tuna, and cod.
Mushrooms increase the production of cytokines, cells that help fight off infections. They also contain polysaccharides, another class of compounds that support your immune system. The most common cold- and flu-fighting mushrooms are shiitake, maitake, and reishi varieties.
- Black Pepper
Black pepper can ward off the sniffles. Mix black pepper with ground ginger and vinegar, and the concoction can help increase the absorption of both herbal and over-the-counter medications. Black peppercorns are particularly high in piperine, a compound known for it’s anti-fever and pain-relieving properties.