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The top 3 ways to boost your immune system for cold and flu season
I was talking to a good friend of mine today who lives in Indiana. She said they’ve already seen their first death due to the flu this year, and it’s barely mid-November.
That got me wondering if this was going to be a particularly bad flu season…
So I started digging and found my answer: a report from Harvard Medical School confirmed my worst suspicion.
In fact, they say that we are likely to have an “active and possibly severe flu season.”
How do they know?
Well, weirdly enough, they make the prediction on what we should expect based on what has been happening in Australia.
That’s because the Southern Hemisphere, with its opposite seasons, is just finishing their winter and their flu season with it. And, it was a doozy.
Related: 10 Unusual flu remedies that boost immunity and speed recovery
Over 300,000 Australians (a new record) were diagnosed with the flu. And, if you’ve ever waited out an illness at home, like so many of us do, you know that was probably just the tip of the iceberg since not everyone goes to the doctor to get the necessary lab tests.
So, with such a severe season Down Under, and adding in the fact that you’re also more likely to end up with a cold as well during the winter, we’re more than likely in for a rocky ride in the coming months. So, aside from the flu vaccination we’re going to count down three top ways to keep your immune system strong in order to avoid falling victim to a cold or flu virus…
#1 – Vitamin C
You knew we had to say it and yes, vitamin C is topping our list and with good reason.
That’s because the vitamin is absolutely necessary for optimal function of your immune system.
Vitamin C boosts your immune defense by helping your system stay adaptable to ward off the germs you come into contact with on a daily basis. It also supports the function of your epithelial barrier to prevent those germs from passing in the first place and even encourages the killing of dangerous microbes.
And, if you’re already feeling ill, taking mega doses of the vitamin could help you feel better faster.
That’s because a scientific study by researchers at the University of Helsinki found that 6-8 grams per day of vitamin C had the power to shorten the duration of a cold by 17 to 19 percent.
And, a second study found that when vitamin C was administered to participants with either a cold or flu, their symptoms decreased by a whopping 85 percent!
The magic dose in that study was 1000 mg of vitamin C for the first 6 hours and then 3 times daily after that.
However, taking megadoses of vitamin C can have some side effects including diarrhea, nausea, heartburn, gastritis, fatigue, flushing, headache, and insomnia. It might be wise just to make sure you are regularly supplementing and if you want to increase your levels, do so a little at a time. Also, consider increasing your vitamin C from food sources, like these with the highest vitamin C content: guavas, bell peppers, kiwifruit, strawberries, oranges, papayas, broccoli, tomatoes, kale, and snow peas.
#2 – Vitamin D
Now we’re going to move from our favorite citrus vitamin to the sunshine vitamin and talk about the power of vitamin D this cold and flu season…
When it comes to colds and flu, whether or not vitamin D could help to keep you safe has been hotly debated.
However, that debate was finally settled by researchers at Queen Mary University of London and reported in The Harvard Gazette. The team analyzed 25 trials with over 11,000 participants that supplementing with vitamin D could cut the risk or respiratory infection in those who are deficient by half.
Related: The world’s most powerful anti-viral super-vitamin
Yup, colds and flu fall under that respiratory infection category, so according to the researchers, vitamin D protects against the virus during the cold and flu season!
It’s a good idea to take it year-round. The Vitamin D Council, recommends you take 5,000 IU of vitamin D per day. That sounds like a lot, but you can take up to 10,000 IU of vitamin D daily before you experience any unwanted side effects. For your supplement, be sure you are buying natural vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) and not synthetic vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). Most vitamin D prescriptions are for ergocalciferol.
Good food sources of vitamin D include fish oils, cold-water fish, dairy products and butter. There is only one vegetable that has vitamin D, and that’s the mushroom at 114 IU per cup.
#3 – Elderberry
Finally, the third addition to your cold and flu-fighting arsenal is elderberry, which you can get in a syrup, a tincture, a tea, capsules, or even gummies.
Elderberry serum practically stops the flu in its tracks. That’s because a 2019 study by a group of chemical and biomolecular engineering researchers from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Engineering and IT directly inhibits the ability of the flu virus to enter and replicate in your cells.
And, as an added benefit, it also boosts your immune system’s response to the virus, so that if you do end up with it, you’re better able to fight it off.
A second study by a team at The Franklin Institute of Wellness also found that elderberry supplementation is also highly effective at reducing the symptoms of both cold and flu.
The time to start preparing for cold and flu season is now, so begin taking vitamin C, D, and elderberry daily to avoid wasting your winter coughing, sneezing, aching, and stuck in bed.
- Bad flu season predicted — did you get your shot? — Harvard Health Publishing
- Vitamin C and Immune Function — Nutrients
- Larger doses of vitamin C may lead to a greater reduction in common cold duration — University of Helsinki
- The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections — Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics
- Study confirms vitamin D protects against colds and flu — Harvard Gazette
- Elderberry compounds could help minimize flu symptoms, study suggests — University of Sydney
- Research college finds that elderberry syrup has a powerful effect on cold and flu symptoms — Artemis International