Foods to Combat Cold & Flu Season

We are in the middle of winter and cold and flu season. I have three young kids which means germs spread quickly around our house. The two older kids do a pretty good job of washing their hands, blowing their noses, and sneezing into their elbows, but the little man is a different story. He drinks out of everyone’s glasses, sneezes onto your food, and coughs in your face. Thanks, buddy!

We do our best with prevention like washing our hands, staying hydrated, getting good sleep, taking high doses of vitamin D3, and eating a healthy diet abundant in fruits and veggies, but it’s inevitable that we get some kind of sickness in the winter. So, when we do catch a bug, here are some of the foods/botanicals that we use to boost our immune system, fight off our sickness symptoms, and quickly get us back on the road to recovery.


Fermented Foods

Fermented foods, such as, yogurt, kefir, krauts, and kombucha contain live microorganisms called probiotics. These live microorganisms also live in the gut and help to form a protective layer that act as our first line of defense in immunity. Probiotics boost immune function and increase resistance to infection. Individuals with flourishing levels of good bacteria are better equipped to fight the growth of disease-causing bacteria. Incorporating at least one fermented food or beverage into your daily diet is one of the best ways to protect yourself from getting sick. Also, if you have had a bout of the stomach flu or a sickness that caused a lot of vomiting and diarrhea or if you were on antibiotics, fermented foods are critical in helping your body replenish the good bacteria that was lost during your sickness.

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Hot Liquids

Hot liquids like herbal teas, hot water with lemon, ginger and honey, and bone broth help warm the body, soothe the throat, and get mucus flowing. Using lemon adds a boost of vitamin C. Bone broth provides gelatin which is an easy to digest form of protein that helps soothe the gut. Different herbs can help boost the immune system, soothe the throat, or calm the body to help you get rest (ex: elderberries, echinacea, chamomile).

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Garlic contains allicin that acts as a natural antibiotic and antiviral agent. Garlic is used in the treatment of the common cold, sore throat, ear infections in children (and adults!), fungal or yeast infections, chronic or recurrent infections, and low resistance to infection. Chopping or mashing garlic releases the plant’s full potential. Mash them or chop finely and mix with food or cut cloves into chunks and swallow them whole like pills. Warmed garlic infused oil is helpful in the treatment of ear infections (it is our go-to treatment when we get an earache). I like to add 10 or so cloves of garlic to any soup I make when we are feeling under the weather, or just add it to bone broth to sip on throughout the day.

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Warming Spices

Warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, coriander, cardamom, and turmeric are helpful in warming up the body when feeling chilled or to help break a fever. They also help with the relief of congestion and cough, nausea associated with the common cold, and provide a rich source of antioxidants to help boost the immune system. They can be incorporated into your cooking, made into a tea with warmed milk, or mixed with warmed honey and eaten like medicine.

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Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can be used as a gargle drink. Mix 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar plus 4 ounces of water. Gargle first, then drink. It helps with sore throat and to fight infection. Also, try my Lemon Juice Elixir or Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar Drinks to help hydrate and replenish your body.

Just remember, it is very important to stay hydrated and get rest when you have a cold or flu. Adding a few (or all) of these home remedies will help give your body a boost and what it needs to heal faster.

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Homemade Chicken and Noodle Soup

Since January is National Soup Month and there is no better feel-good-food for the common cold and seasonal flu than homemade Chicken and Noodle Soup, here is a version I have been making as of late. It makes a gallon of soup which means you have dinner and lunch for days! Freeze leftovers so you have it when you need it the most—when you are sick and absolutely do not feel like cooking. Enjoy!

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Beth Blessing (Organic Beth) has a Masters in Nutrition and is the co-founder of Green Bean Delivery. She is a mother of three that loves supporting family farms and searching for unique, artisanal products. Her goal is to help others eat better and live a more natural, holistic life through healthy recipes and practical tips. Follow her on Facebook: @OrganicBeth