It’s that beautiful time of year when we not only usher in colder weather and the holidays, but also nasty germs, causing many families to play that fun game of “Pass the Flu Around!” According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the height of the season is December through February, but it can run as late into spring as May. So how do you boost your immune system and minimize your chances of catching a virus? Here are five ways to stave off that winter cold and flu:
#1 – WORK OUT
Any kind of cardio that induces a sweat — running, biking, trying to extract your toddler from under the table — can elevate your body temperature enough to snap your immune system into action, just like a fever. According to a study published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, elevated body temperature helps certain types of immune cells to work better.
#2 – EAT GARLIC
Garlic — or allicin, an enzyme released when garlic is chopped or crushed — can improve immune cell function, thereby helping to ward off colds and flu, reveals a study published in the Journal of Nutrition. Oh, sure, you may be smelly, but better stinky than sniffly!
#3 – DRINK ELDERBERRY
Elderberry packs a one-two punch: it tastes good and it fights human pathogenic bacteria, as well as influenza viruses, says one study. Another study claims the berry has antioxidant properties, relieving cold and flu symptoms four days earlier on average,
#4 – CHICKEN SOUP
A popular study published in CHEST discovered that chicken soup has numerous substances with “beneficial medicinal activity.” “A mild anti-inflammatory effect could be one mechanism by which the soup could result in the mitigation of symptomatic upper respiratory tract infections,” it reads. Plus, as you may have heard, chicken soup is good for the soul.
#5 – TAKE PROBIOTICS
Yogurt contains live-active cultures, which are healthy bacteria known to keep germs at bay in your gut and intestines; those cultures can also help to stave off respiratory infections. According to a study from the British Journal of Nutrition, a probiotic strain called Lactobacillus casei (try saying that five times fast.l.. or even once) can help to reduce the severity of respiratory infections.
So be sure to try some or all of these remedies STAT! Because we know what happens when Mom gets sick…