Great question! Besides the very basic, but sometimes hard to accomplish, getting plenty of sleep, washing your hands frequently, exercising and eating a healthy diet, here are a few things that I do for my family.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
The first thing I would like to recommend you take is grapefruit seed extract. This wonderful little extract has anti-viral, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. I believe it to be a very potent way of fighting off all of the little viruses and microbes out there, and have used it in nasal spray, liquid and pill form. It is wonderful as a nasal spray if you happen to be prone to sinus infections. I prefer the pill form to the liquid form because it has a very bitter taste.
Vitamin D3 is another very important addition to your supplements, especially if you are a heavy sunscreen user or if it is during the winter. Recently this vitamin has received much attention because of surfacing research on the role it plays in everything from diabetes to cancer to simple immune function. I have read a variety of statistics stating that anywhere from 75% to 93% of American adults are deficient in Vitamin D – wow!!! Couple that with the fact that our main source of Vitamin D, the sun, is greatly limited in its ability by over-use of sunscreen and the fact that during the winter in the northern regions of our country we tend to stay indoors and the sun’s rays are simply too weak for our bodies to produce enough, and you have a great reason for a “cold and flu season”. Unless your diet is rich with foods that naturally contain decent amounts of Vitamin D, such as salmon and shitake mushrooms and you like to play outside in the summer without sunscreen, you should consider supplementing. Another thing to note is that you can have your doctor do a simple blood test to determine whether or not you are deficient.
Perhaps you have heard it said that your digestive system is closely linked to your immunity. The reason for that is the good bacteria that lives there. This friendly bacteria is beneficial for digestion, allergy relief and immunity. It pays to build up your digestive army! So, for optimal immunity, add a daily (or several times daily) dose of quality probiotics to your diet. This can be done in the form of probiotic-rich food and/or supplementation. This is also a great help if you are experiencing any digestive issues. If you have recently taken antibiotics, it is especially important that you supplement heavily with probiotics. Remember antibiotics kill good bacteria as well as bad and thereby weaken your immune system.
Another extremely important supplement to fight off colds and flus is Vitamin C. This vitamin is water soluble and washes out in your urine, so the only side effect of too much is stomach issues, mainly diarrhea. I like to take Emergen-C when I feel myself coming down with something. It seems to be effective and doesn’t upset my stomach. I give half of the adult packet to my kids a couple of times a day if they are fighting something off.
Finally, I would recommend you eat garlic or take it in pill form. I have found this wonderful food to be particularly effective when I have had bronchial issues, even to the extent of clearing up bronchitis that a course of Zithromax couldn’t get rid of. If you are offended by the not-so-subtle odor, odorless pills are readily available. Garlic has so many health benefits that no natural medicine cabinet should be without it. I have even bought the odorless garlic in gel cap form and mixed it in yogurt or spread it on the bread of my kids’ sandwiches or toast when they have been run down. They were none the wiser, but much healthier for it.
I find it a bit difficult to cut my list short here because there are so many wonderful herbs that I have found to be effective immune boosters and cold fighters, but lately this is my top list for keeping myself, my hubby and my kiddos healthy. We have used these things for the last couple of years, and with the exception of a few sniffles here and there have had a fairly healthy household.