How to Build a Natural Defense Against Colds and Flu

The feverish specter of colds and flu looms each winter, when icy weather, hot buildings and close quarters combine to build a perfect viral breeding ground. While many opt for an annual flu vaccine, others prefer to skip or supplement the vaccine with time-honored herbal and vitamin based remedies, lifestyle changes and alternative treatments. Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so don’t wait for the sniffles to strike. Instead, take a proactive stance and supercharge your immune system with vitamins, wholesome foods and a healthy lifestyle.

Pop a Powerful Supplement

Vitamins and herbs have long been used as natural cold preventives, but be sure to check with your physician first, especially if you are on other medications. Mythical cold basher Vitamin C has shown some fine results in studies demonstrating its positive effect on the duration and severity of cold symptoms, and many believe a daily dose will keep colds at bay. Take an Echinacea supplement or pop a zinc lozenge along with your daily dose of Vitamin C for an added immune system boost. Viewed as a powerful health food for thousands of years, garlic is believed to hold natural antibiotic and immunity boosting powers. Garlic is now available in potent (scent-free!) pill form, and studies have shown that people taking these supplements get fewer colds and recover faster from infections.

Eat Flu Fighting Foods

We should watch what we eat year-round, and never is it more important than in cold and flu season. Start your day with a cup of tea, whether green or black, as both show promising results in studies of its cancer fighting and circulation boosting effects. Some researchers believe the key tea ingredient is L-theanine, a substance helps the immune system fight bacteria, viruses and fungi. Eat as wide a variety as possible of fresh veggies and fruits, whole grain breads and low-fat dairy products. Catch some extra vitamin D, now considered a potential cold-buster, by choosing foods like wild-caught salmon and sun-dried mushrooms. Yogurt is loaded with beneficial bacteria called probiotics, and spooning down a wide selection of brands will offer optimum protection.

Cultivate Healthy Habits

You can take a huge step towards preventing colds and flus by living a generally healthy lifestyle. Start with basics like washing hands frequently, especially after using the lavatory and before eating. Germs lie in wait everywhere, and a little soap and water or antibacterial gel can go a long way toward keeping them out of our bodies. Though obviously it’s not always possible, try to keep stress to a minimum, and if you can’t, try stress management techniques like exercise, meditation and yoga. Chronic stress is known to weaken the immune system and increase the risk of cold or flu.

Adventure into Alternative Medicine

Alternative types of treatment are believed by many to reduce the chance of falling ill with colds or flu. The ancient art of acupuncture has been considered by some to be effective in preventing and curing colds. Perhaps due to the treatment’s overall reduction of stress caused by discomfort, chiropractors have found that chiropractic adjustments can lead to shorter durations in their patients’ colds.

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