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When you’re feeling under the weather, these natural cold and flu remedies can support your body and help reduce your symptoms and even lessen the length of being sick.
Caring for your immune health is something you should be mindful of year-round. By taking care of your gut health, nourishing yourself well, and practicing a healthy lifestyle, you can better prevent catching a cold or flu.
With that in mind, there are ways you can support yourself when you feel those first signs of being sick.
Natural Cold and Flu Remedies to Keep in Mind When You’re Sick
Whether you’re feeling like you have a cold or the flu as you’re reading this, or you’re reading this to be prepared, these are all simple tips you can use when you need them.
1. Nutrient-Dense Whole Foods
Mother Nature provides us with an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, so it’s important to consume a variety of them daily, but especially when you’re sick. When you’re feeling under the weather, you may also consider reducing any processed foods you do eat to best support your body.
Aim for at least 5-6 servings of vegetables a day, but I challenge you to make 2 or 3 of those servings coming from dark leafy greens. It may seem like a lot at first, so just challenge yourself to add in 1 extra serving a day (the Stripped Green Smoothie contains 3-4 servings of vegetables per glass!)
If you are feeling sick, here are some of our favorite comforting yet nutrient-dense recipes to make you feel good from the inside out and are easy on digestion but also great sources of vitamin C and zinc!
2. Frequent Meals
When we’re feeling under the weather, sometimes our appetite or stomachs don’t feel as great so pay attention to your own needs.
Eating smaller, more frequent meals can support your appetite and regular digestion.
Elderberries have been used for centuries as traditional immune support and may help when you’re feeling under the weather.
They provide your body with antioxidant support from vitamin C and anthocyanins. Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that is most known for naturally strengthening your body’s defenses. Additionally, elderberries are naturally high in the flavonoid, anthocyanin.
If you don’t already have Elderberry Syrup in your medicine cabinet, we recommend Elderberry Soothing Syrup by Further Foods. It’s a delicious and antioxidant-rich syrup made with Sambucus elderberry extract, anti-inflammatory spices cinnamon & cloves plus honey and is tested for quality and potency. In addition, it tastes delicious, is low in sugar, and contains no artificial ingredients or fillers.
Drinking water can often go overlooked when the seasons become cooler, we’re sweating less naturally, we’re not as hot, and we’re not eating as many seasonally fresh juicy fruit (with high water content), yet our bodies require it just as much.
Herbal teas and Simply Infused Waters are an easy way to help you remember to drink more water.
Sleeping is incredibly important for the body to rebuild, restore, and keep the immune system healthy.
The reason being, the immune function has been shown to be very closely tied to our sleep cycles, specifically our circadian systems (1). For example, sleep has been proven to reduce infection risk and even improve infection outcomes and vaccination responses (2).
The better we sleep, the stronger our immune system is!
6. Hot tea, broth, or soup
Hot teas like green tea, oolong tea, red (rooibos) teas contain the most antioxidants and are very low in caffeine.
Think of antioxidants as power-houses that help to prevent infections and disease. Antioxidants are compounds that fight against free radicals. Free radicals are compounds that can cause disease and illness when their amounts get too high in the body.
Vegetable broths and stews are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These amazing components help the body to naturally function at its best! Additionally, soups are easy to make, you can have easy leftovers to heat up, and are enjoyable to eat. Try our White Bean Soup With The Best Broth Ever.
Get moving daily, even if it’s for a walk around your neighborhood or an awesome sweat session at the gym. Keeping your body moving will keep your immune system healthy.
For example, single bouts of moderate-intensity exercise have been shown to be “immune-enhancing”. It may reduce inflammation, where inflammation is commonly associated with infection and disease (x).
Not to mention sweating through our skin, which is one of our largest detoxification organs, is beneficial.
There are many spices that can support your immune system and can easily be added to recipes you’re making.
Turmeric has been used as a healing spice for centuries in the Eastern culture for good reason. It’s incredibly rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory compounds that have been shown to help improve the immune system. Check out my favorite way to enjoy turmeric here, Turmeric Milk.
Foods that are nutrient-dense and may help fight inflammation and bacteria include honey, raw garlic, coconut oil, blueberries, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, mustard, green and oolong teas, cranberries, and chili peppers/cayenne.
Once again, inflammation is a major cause of disease and illness, making these nutrient-dense foods a great addition to any diet. Unwanted bacteria, similarly to inflammation, can also lead to infection and disease.
Garlic, onions, honey, coconut oil, oregano/oregano oil all contain beneficial properties like anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial — these food components are great in the context of colds and flus.
Our mental and emotional health plays a key role in our physical health and our immune system.
Stress, especially long-term chronic stress, can wreak havoc on the immune system over time. More specifically, it can lead to consistently high levels of the hormone cortisol. This is something we want to avoid because it can in turn lead to impaired anti-inflammatory effects on the immune system, which we’ve learned is vital for fighting infection and disease (4).
Take the time to relax, recharge, and manage stress daily.
- Besedovsky L, Lange T, Born J. Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Arch. 2012;463(1):121-137. doi:10.1007/s00424-011-1044-0
- Besedovsky L, Lange T, Haack M. The Sleep-Immune Crosstalk in Health and Disease. Physiol Rev. 2019 Jul 1;99(3):1325-1380. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00010.2018. PMID: 30920354; PMCID: PMC6689741.
- Simpson RJ, Kunz H, Agha N, Graff R. Exercise and the Regulation of Immune Functions. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2015;135:355-80. doi: 10.1016/bs.pmbts.2015.08.001. Epub 2015 Sep 5. PMID: 26477922.
- Bae YS, Shin EC, Bae YS, Van Eden W. Editorial: Stress and Immunity. Front Immunol. 2019;10:245. Published 2019 Feb 14. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2019.00245