As the temperatures go down and the wind picks up, cold and flu start to make its seasonal entrance. It’s estimated that one in three Americans suffer a seasonal cold at least once a year; that’s a lot of missed work and school days! Guard yourself from the uncomfortable symptoms by bolstering your immune system.
1. Power up with herbs.
These dried herbs and spices contain concentrated nutrients that work synergistically to boost the strength of your immune system.
For example, in addition to a treasure trove of vitamins and antioxidants, basil also has potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help ward off cold and flu. Antimicrobial oregano is traditionally used to benefit the digestive and respiratory systems, improve circulation for cold hands and feet, aid restful sleep, and build immunity. Star anise is often used to treat digestive issues such as abdominal cramps, bloating, and constipation. A strong and healthy digestive system equals a healthy immune system. In fact, in its natural form, star anise is thought to help the body’s immune system fight off the flu.
Use equal amounts of each spice below in dried and ground forms. After grinding, store the blended spice powder in an airtight, glass jar in a cool place to protect the volatile oils for up to a year.
- ground star anise
- dried basil
- dried oregano
- dried cilantro
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- dried thyme
Simply add this blend to your soups, stir-fries, fish and veggie dishes, and bean and grain dishes. just as you are finishing cooking the dish–about one minute before you turn off the heat.
2. Get a boost with greens.
Drink your daily flu shot by making a green shake using antioxidant-rich greens like kale, beet greens, dandelion greens, and Swiss chard. Full of flu-fighting phytonutrients, they will boost your immune system and energy. Add some spirulina or chlorella, berries, ginger, and lemon to your shake and stay energized the whole day. One green flu-fighting juice combo is a cup of kale, a small apple, a cup of mixed berries, a half-inch of fresh ginger, and two tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice. If drinking your greens isn’t your cup of tea, make sure to add them to your meals.
3. Boost your vitamin D.
Vitamin D, which we usually get with our daily dose of sun, is closely associated with immune health. It’s not a coincidence that most colds and flus occur during the fall and winter months when we receive less sunshine. So what can you do if the sun doesn’t shine in your neck of the woods? Make sure to eat vitamin-D-enriched foods, fatty fish like salmon, mackeral, sardines, herring, button and shiitake mushrooms, and egg yolks. You may also choose to take a vitamin D supplement. To know if you are vitamin-D deficient, ask you doctor to run a blood test to see if supplementation is right for you.
4. Don’t forget the obvious.
At this point, you’ve heard this advice at least 100 times a year since you were old enough to speak, but they bear repeating because they work. Wash your hands, especially during cold season. Don’t touch your face. And of course, the most famous of all: Get enough sleep at night.