Guarding yourself from the cold and flu

As I now sit here with a stuffy nose and 2 snot nosed kids, I’m reminded of the steps I took last year that seemed to help keep virus’ at bay. So here’s a rerun post while I rest up today!

While we did not get the flu shot this year, that doesn’t quite mean I’d actually like the flu! There are some natural ways to boost your immune system and give your body a helping hand at actually fighting it (and the common cold) off should you come in contact with some sniffling folk.

First off what’s the difference between the cold and flu?
Basically both of them are respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses.

The Flu:

  • Symptoms come on very quickly, within a few hours. You go from feeling well one minute to horrible the next.
  • Usually consists of a fever (my last flu bug had me at 103.5 for 2 days!)
  • Chills from the fever
  • Horrible body aches
  • Moderate to sever chest congestion
  • Dry cough
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Headache
  • Basically an all around “can’t get out of bed” feeling

What the flu is NOT: It is not a stomach bug. Although many people refer to throwing up as the 24 hour flu, people actually rarely throw up when it’s the actual flu. So if it’s intestinal, you’ve caught some type of tummy bug like the norovirus or rotavirus.

The Cold

  • Symptoms come on gradually over the course of a few days
  • Normally consists of stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, and the stuffy head feeling
  • Mild tiredness
  • Fevers not unusual but are normally only slightly elevated if at all
  • Productive cough

Ways to protect yourself and your family from illness throughout the cold and flu season:

  • Cut waaaay down on your consumption of sugar and processed foods! Studies have shown that the chemical process of your body digesting these foods depresses your immune system. A can of pop can actually weaken your immune system for up to 6 hours after consumption. Cutting out obvious sugars is easy (desserts, pop, candy, etc.) but don’t forget to look out for all the hidden sugar in food (which is why you should also cut out processed foods -they’re full of them!). Check the labels of yogurt, granola bars, and other seemingly “health” foods for any type of sugar, corn syrup, any ingredient ending in -ose (fructose, glucose, etc.) and even barely malt.
  • Get your rest and make sure your kids do too. Stress and fatigue also lower your immune system. And if you feel something coming on, it’s best to sleep as much as possible.
  • Wash your hands (especially before meals!!), but forget about antibacterial soaps. Seems kind of funny, but it’s actually detrimental to your immune system to use antibacterial soaps. Allowing your body to come in contact with germs allows it to “work out”, so when an actual virus comes around, it’s “fit” for keeping it in check. (Now, I say that as I also use some antibacterial gels. I know, a bit hypocritical. But, I do carry hand sanitizer in my bag so that we can “wash” our hands when there is no clean facility in which to do so. But I do not have antibacterial soaps in my house!) Normal hand washing should last long enough to sing the ABC’s, using soap and warm water, and lots of scrubbing. Also make sure you dry them completely.
  • Eat plenty of probiotics. Think plain yogurt or things like kefir and kombucha. The good bacteria that lives in fermented foods supplies your intestinal tract so that it can fight off bad bacteria that enter it. (Did you know that 80% of your immune system is in your digestive system?) I also take probiotics in capsule form as well.
  • Take Cod Liver Oil. It’s high in vitamins A & D, both of which help your immune system.

And at home:

  • Make sure to wash odd objects that get touched often. Things like light switches, doors, the phone, handles on the fridge, oven and dishwasher. Take a hot rag and wipe them down or use a rag soaked in vinegar and spritz the object with hydrogen peroxide, then rub with the vinegar rag for a disinfectant.
  • Keeping a humidifier helps as well since certain viruses need a low level of humidity to survive. Plus, when your mucous membranes dry out, they can’t trap the virus as it enters the body.
  • Sanitize your toothbrush by dipping in hydrogen peroxide, run boiling water over it, (boil a small pan of water and pour over the toothbrush), or I’ve even heard of folks running them through the dishwasher (not with dishes) to clean them up since the water gets hotter than tap water.
  • Teach your kids to cough into their elbow and not their hands. This way they don’t get transfer the virus from hand to object.

Even though you take all of these steps, it is still quite possible to contract one of these not-so-fun winter ills. But should you take some precautions and eat a healthy diet as well as feed your body good bacteria, even if you do contract it, you can lesson the symptoms you feel and get over it faster.

What are ways you boost your immune system?

About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. Gina @ The Christian Mom's Outlet says:

    Another great way to prevent the flu is to take a Vitamin D supplement – since we don’t get enough to make our own with the limited sun (another reason why people get sick during the winter). Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that the majority of people are deficient in, more so in the colder seasons.

    Also, another way to keep germs away is using the Thieves blend of essential oils – if you spray it on your feet and hands before going out in public it will keep you from getting any virus, bacteria, etc.

    And good for you not getting the flu shot! Research definitely proves it to be more harmful than good.

    Have a healthy holiday:)

  2. Gina – I don’t know how I missed that one – thanks for bringing it up! So important! I’ll have to give the essential oils a try too.

  3. Prevention is best but the minute I or one of the kids even think something is coming on (which is inevitable)…
    1. we double our intake of acidophilus…
    2. we drink gallons of what we call “cold tea” that is actually warm (herbs)…
    3. I make fresh queezed lemon/ginger water and drink gallons…
    4. and REST. Taking an immediate nap and often is crucial to prevent being run down and sick longer.
    5. I also increase Vitamin B/B12 as they are a boost over stress and fatigue.

    Considering I have been sick this week, I’m following the advice of all the above…and should be sleeping now. 😉 Thanks for the post!

  4. great reminder!! Thank you! We are doing most of this, but we need to cut back on sugar/foods that change to sugar and the reminder to wash our hands more often is always needed!
    Ps. I’m so glad you have that cod liver oil video on the home page of the “new” blog…I still laugh when I think of it! =) I do love a good laugh!
    Laughing keeps you healthy too, we should always laugh more!!!

  5. >>> I also take probiotics in capsule form as well.

    I wanted to start taking probiotic supplements. Do you have any brands/types you prefer? I haven’t a clue on how to select one. Thanks!

    donielle Reply:

    @Karen, I’ve been taking the 20 billion Multidophilus from Solaray right now. They do seem to be helping. I would also recommend the Garden of Life products as well – I know enough of their other products that I would trust their probiotics as well.

    And basically a good probiotic should be refrigerated and have a moisture packet inside to keep excess moisture away.

    Karen Reply:


    Many thanks for your help. I will check them out.

  6. Thanks for sharing this. I’ve never really been concerned about the flu before (I’ve never had it and I’m 22 years old) and have never gotten the vaccine, but I just found out that I’m pregnant so I’m a little more concerned this fall/winter. I looove sugar but I’ll try hard to reduce my consumption, which is good anyway since it’s not good for me or the baby, flu and cold aside. I eat yogurt (plain with a little fruit mixed in) almost daily and have some kimchi in the fridge, but that isn’t very appealing right now with my sensitive stomach, and cod liver oil is on my grocery list since it’s also good for my developing babe. I appreciate this post!

    donielle Reply:

    @Emily, If you are looking for a really good cod liver oil, try They are the only ones that put the original vitamins A&D back into it after fermenting. And of course the synthetic stuff everyone else uses isn’t good for you.


  1. […] Guarding Yourself From the Cold and Flu, Donielle first explains the difference in the two viruses.  She goes on to offer practical ways […]