Cold & Flu Season Prep


The ominous cold and flu season is upon us. How can we strengthen our immune systems and keep colds and flus at bay? Flu shot you say? Well, maybe. While there is a small chance the CDC got it perfectly right and matched this year’s vaccine formulation with the currently circulating strains of the virus, more than likely this is not the case. Regardless of your dogma - pro-vaccination or not, it makes sense to super charge your immune system and those of your loved ones naturally. Read on and she how we do it.

  • Vitamin C. This is an important vitamin to help prevent colds. In addition,1,000mg per day of a good quality, organic food based vitamin C supplement (or one that is USP grade and produced in a GMP certified facility) can alleviate the severity and shorten the duration of a cold. Here is an example of a good one.

    Aside from supplementation, eating vitamin C rich foods is the easiest way to make sure you are getting enough. Some examples include all citrus fruits, papayas, strawberries, raspberries and pineapple, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables and parsley.

  • Elderberry. This powerful fruit contains anthocyanins which are known to have potent immune boosting effects. Studies have shown that supplementing with elderberry within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms, can reduce the duration of symptoms by four days on average. You can find this in a syrup or juice concentrate, as well as in capsules or tinctures. We make gummies out of the juice or tincture.

    Elderberry Gummy Recipe

    *You’ll need a silicone mold and coconut oil to prevent sticking.

  • 1/2 cup elderberry syrup

  • 1/8 cup gelatin powder

  • 1/4 cup hot boiling water

    Grease the molds with a bit of coconut oil.

    Whisk 1/2 the elderberry syrup with the gelatin powder quickly.

    Add the hot water and stir vigorously until smooth. Pour into the prepared molds and refrigerate until completely firm.

    Store in an air-tight container with parchment in between each layer.

  • Echinachea. Immune boosting and oxidative damage protecting, this medicinal root was first used by indigenous North American Indians. Research shows that it can help prevent the common cold and also reduce its duration by a day or two. It is particularly helpful for respiratory conditions and inflammation.

  • Zinc. Required for multiple functions throughout the body, zinc is a micronutrient important for immune system containing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some foods containing high levels of zinc are seafood, especially oysters, meat and cheese. Studies have shown it to have the ability to shorten colds by a whopping 5 days or even longer. The most effective form of zinc is zinc acetate for cold prevention/shortening. Try a lozenge the second you feel a cold coming on and continue taking one every few hours until your symptoms go away.

  • Hemp Oil. We’ve talked about this at length and if you’d like to learn more, read here. In a nut shell, hemp oil is a plant-produced cannabinoid (or phytocannabinoid) from the Cannabis sativa plant that mimics our body’s own internal cannabinoid (or endocannabinoid) system. The main function of this system is to maintain homeostasis and help the body adapt to stressors. When it is out of balance, the digestive, reproductive, nervous, and immune systems suffer. In addition, this system regulates neurotransmitter function, inflammation, mitochondrial function, and metabolism. Use hemp oil regularly as a nutritional supplement to prevent and help the body naturally fight colds and flus. There are hundreds of different CBD oils available now, some more efficacious than others. This is the one we use.

  • Prebiotics and probiotics. A healthy gut equals a healthy body and mind as an estimated 80-85% of the immune system is in the gut. The bacteria in our digestive tract plays a vital role in nutrient absorption, mucosal barrier function, support of gut lymphoid tissue, and immune function. We can keep our gut bacteria happy by feeding it prebiotics (foods that promote the increase of good bacteria in our gut) and probiotics (foods that feed that good bacteria). Some good examples of prebiotic foods are Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, leeks, asparagus, dandelion greens, chicory root, potato starch, green bananas or green banana flour, cooked and cooled white potatoes and cooked and cooled rice. Fermented foods such as kimchee, sauerkraut, beet kvass, fermented pickles, yogurt and kefir are good sources of probiotics. Aside from whole foods, you can boost your prebiotic and probiotic intake through supplements - we like Hyperbiotics Organic Powder and Healthy Origins Fiber All Natural for prebiotics and Klaire Labs Ther-biotic Complete or Primal Blueprint Primal Probiotic for probiotics.

  • Mushrooms. The anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties of this incredible superfood have long played a role in Chinese medicine and have more recently made its way into the Western world. They contain powerful antioxidants, polysaccharides and triterpenes as well as a long list of nutrients that can help with cardiovascular health, hormonal regulation, thyroid functioning, digestion and skin health. Culinary delights made from enoki, maitake and oyster mushrooms can help fortify the immune system and these mushroom varieties can be found in local and specialty grocery stores. Other mushrooms such as chaga, reishi, turkey tail, lion’s mane and cordyceps are a bit more difficult to source. In addition, extracting their medicinal properties to their greatest potential can get a little more complicated. Luckily, there are companies such as Four Sigmatic and Host Defense that do the job for us. We personally use the 10 Mushroom Blend by Four Sigmatic and My Community Multi Mushroom Extract by Host Defense.

  • Bone Broth. Bone broth contains particular amino acids and lipids that are indispensable for immune system functioning. It is collagen and gelatin rich - two things vital for gut health, and contains anti-inflammatory and immuno-regulating glycosaminoglycans. For more bone broth info (and a recipe), see here.

  • Load up on Micronutrients. An adequate intake of micronutrients will help keep your immune system intact. While in general we eat a rainbow of vegetables regularly and make sure our plates are 90% plant based, we turn to Dr. Cowen’s Garden for an even broader variety of vegetables to easily supplement our micronutrient intake. Dr. Cowen is a brilliant, forward thinking anthroposophical doctor, author of several books, one of our favorites being How (& Why) to Eat More Vegetables, based in Northern California. He cultivates organic, biodynamic heirloom plants, carefully dries and creates vegetable powders out of them. The powders are stored in Miron jars to preserve their nutrients. Sprinkle any of their veggie powders on foods and drinks and mix them into baked goods. Not only are they beautiful to look at, they are also delicious. Our favorites are the Savory Three-fold Blend, the Leek Salt, the Kale and the Three Beet Powder. The powders are not inexpensive but we think they are worth the price. We are affiliates of Dr. Cowen’s Garden and if you use our code (DRCOWANSGARDEN) you’ll get a 15% discount. Every little bit helps!

  • Sauna. The principal role of the lymphatic system is to keep white blood cells and fat-soluble vitamins flowing throughout the body while moving dead cellular matter out. Stagnant lymph can lead to an accumulation of toxic cellular debris and pathogens - and an impaired immune system. One of the the body’s primary means of detoxification is through the skin. Sweating in a sauna is a great way to circulate lymph fluid.

  • Rebounding. This is another powerful lymph-moving technique. Bounce on a mini-trampoline for about 10 minutes a day to help keep the lymph system decongested. Alternatively, stand on a vibration plate.

  • Sleep. We have talked about sleep and its numerous benefits in the past, but it is so important, it is worth mentioning again. It is during rest that the body is able to renew, recover, and revitalize. This is especially important when the immune system is compromised.

  • AVOID: sugar (including bread and pasta), processed foods, industrial seed oils and gluten. These foods present stressors in the body and place an excessive burden on the digestive system. They divert energy away from our natural immune and maintenance processes.

And what if you do get sick? In addition to the above, here’s the home made cold-busting concoction swear by. Take at onset of symptoms! Mix all ingredients into a paste and eat.

  • Juice from 1 lemon

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

  • 1/4 teaspoon organic turmeric powder (or freshly grated if possible)

  • 1 teaspoon Manuka honey

  • 1-2 teaspoon coconut oil

  • freshly ground black pepper

(Full disclosure:  Lots of affiliate links above. Yes, we make a little bit of money if you make a purchase using our links, but it is at no extra cost to you.  Rest assured, we wouldn't be recommending them if we hadn’t personally tried and approved of them)!

Additional references:

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