Four Ways to Stay Healthy This Flu Season

Flu season is here and it’s back with a vengeance.
The news and media are warning that this flu season is intense, and 36 states are dealing with widespread flu activity. A high fever, chills, a sore throat, and a long-lasting nasty cough are the symptoms to expect this year. Yikes. It’s not surprising that many of us are searching for some quick cold and flu remedies. We need some immune helpers that we can use at our first sneeze or cough so, hopefully, we can get better faster.

Look no further! Here are four tools to help you stay healthy through this flu season:

  1. Elderberry to the rescue!

Elderberry is an unsung hero in supporting our immune system through a cold or flu. Its superpower is simple, yet effective. It’s very high in anthocyanins, which is a family of potent antioxidants that can bind to viruses, stopping them in their tracks<1><2>. Elderberry can also help you if you do get sick. Research has found that elderberry can reduce both the severity of your symptoms and the duration of your flu<3>. Elderberry also helps to clear out your lungs if you get a stubborn cough. I use Flora’s Elderberry Crystals (US/CA). They’re easy to use (I just mix them with water) and they spend the winter on my counter, ready to go at the first moment I feel a cold or flu coming on. They’ve kept me healthy all season long. They’re also safe to take on a daily basis, which is great for anyone who works with a lot of people each day, like teachers or retail staff.
  1. Bump up your Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a natural flu fighter. Research has found that taking a high dose of vitamin C when you first start to feel a bug can reduce your symptoms by 85 percent!<4> Enjoying more citrus fruits, strawberries, and kale during the winter can help. However, research has found that we need a higher dose of vitamin C to feel the benefits. Flora’s Acerola Powder (US/CA) provides 900 mg of whole food vitamin C—not just ascorbic acid—per scoop! I add it to my elderberry crystals to amp up their flu-fighting power.
  1. Rest, rest, and more rest

Your immune system works best when you’re relaxed. This is why we tend to get sick right after a big deadline or lots of stress. The moment you relax, your immune system comes back to full power and finds whatever virus has been hanging out while you were stressed. That’s when you start feeling symptoms. If you’re feeling symptoms, take a day off—or two, if you can. Cut back on your commitments, and put couch-time, Netflix, and sleep at the very top of your to-do list. The more you rest at the beginning, the faster you’ll feel better. A day or two off now will help a lot in your recovery.
  1. Extra sleep, all winter long

Have you noticed that your energy is a bit lower in the winter? That it’s harder to get up in the morning and you’re feeling a little more sleepy in the evenings? Before our modern era of electricity and addictive social media, we slept longer in the winter. Those long, long nights triggered extra melatonin production, and we did our own mini-hibernation. Our body would still like that extra sleep, but we rarely give it what it’s looking for. But it doesn’t take a lot! Just an extra half hour of sleep each night during the winter can really help our mood and energy. Less screen-time before bed, a cooler house, or a wonderfully relaxing Epsom salt bath can help us feel sleepy a bit earlier. Sleep helpers like Soothing Camomile tea (US/CA) or Sleep-Essence (US/CA) can help our body relax and let us sleep deeper, even if we don’t get more sleep-time. An extra hour or two on the weekends can help fill in the gaps.
The cold and flu season won't be quite as scary with a few simple ingredients on hand.
Lisa Kilgour is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN), founder of, and a faculty member at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.
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