Cold & Flu Tips to Stay Well

How to Maintain a Healthy Immune System

As the cold and flu season approaches, it’s important to prioritise our health and well-being—the key to staying healthy lies in prevention and strengthening our immune response.

 As a trusted naturopath, we provide valuable insights, tips, and strategies to navigate cold and flu challenges.

This blog post aims to equip you with the knowledge and tools necessary to boost your immune system naturally and minimise the risk of falling ill. So, let’s dive in!


Nutrition for a Healthy Immune Response

A well-balanced diet rich in immune-boosting nutrients is vital for optimal immune health. Focus on incorporating the following foods into your meals:

Eat Vegetables that Support the Immune Response 

Vegetables contain abundant essential nutrients, including antioxidants, vitamins, and phytochemical compounds that fight pathogens. In addition, fresh garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric, broccoli, carrots, spinach, celery, and beetroot are supportive.

Leafy Greens

Include leafy greens such as kale, broccoli, silverbeet, spinach, and Brussels sprouts in your diet. Not only do they offer a wide range of vital nutrients, antioxidants, minerals, and fibre, but they also support a healthy immune system. You can add leafy greens to your meals and support your immune system with a little effort.

Eat Warming Foods

Keep your core temperature stable and reduce the chance of getting cold. Warming foods: beef, ginger, garlic, peppers, potato, sweet potato, squash, oats, kale, cabbage. Avoid cooling foods: salad, cheese, fruits, and watermelon.


Add Colour to Meals Boosts the Immune System Response 

Another way to boost your immune system is to include more fresh fruits and veggies in your diet. Incorporating different colours into your meals increases the range of minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals like antioxidants that help support cellular function. They can be eaten as a side dish, added to soups or salads, or incorporated into dishes. The key is to eat them regularly.

Probiotic-Rich Foods

Maintaining a healthy gut is vital for a strong immune system. One way to achieve this is through consuming probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables. These can help improve the balance of gut flora, leading to better digestion and overall health.

Additionally, the fermentation process can enhance the nutritional value of these foods by increasing the availability of vitamins and minerals to support your immune system and promote health.

Omega-3 fatty acids

One of the most significant benefits of including omega-3s in your diet is their ability to combat inflammation and support immune function. However, not all omega-3 sources are created equal, so choosing a high-quality supplement or consuming foods such as fatty fish, chia seeds, and walnuts that are rich in omega-3 is essential.

Less Sugar

Reduce Sugar Intake and Boost Your Immune Response

Sugar may reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs, suppressing the immune system response for up to five hours. By avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates, you will reduce the available sugars that pathogens use to multiply and, as a result, decrease inflammation.

Carbohydrate-rich diets also increase the body’s ability to control blood sugar. Eat a balanced, anti-inflammatory diet such as the 40:30:30 Zone diet by Dr Barry Sears, which suggests consuming 40% carbs, 30% proteins and 30% fats—peer-reviewed study. [1]

Reduce Mucus-Forming Foods

To minimise mucus production, limiting the consumption of foods your body may be allergic to or sensitive to is advisable. These allergenic foods can contribute to inflammation and exacerbate your condition. It’s worth noting that symptoms such as sneezing and sinus congestion may indicate an underlying allergy.

Common culprits that trigger sensitivities include wheat, dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, etc.), red meats, processed meats, chocolate, alcohol, food colouring, and food additives. By avoiding or reducing intake of these items, you may experience a reduction in mucus-related symptoms.

Maintaining an Optimal Weight

A well-balanced diet that supports weight loss can help you fight colds and flu by lowering insulin levels. High insulin increases inflammation and results in poor immune response to germs that cause colds and flu. Reducing quick carbs (sweets, cakes, chocolate, etc.) helps control your blood sugar and reduce insulin.


Honey has been used for centuries for numerous health benefits, including its antibacterial properties. Ancient Egyptians used honey as a natural antibiotic to treat various ailments. Honey’s beneficial properties are numerous, including its antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-modulating properties.

Honey’s properties make it an effective natural remedy for a range of health conditions, from sore throats and coughs. Whether alone or combined with other natural ingredients, honey can help support overall health and well-being. [2]

Check out our Homemade Cough Mixture made with honey.

Supplements for cold and flu

Essential Nutrients for Immunity:

Caring for our immune system is important, especially during the colder months. We should consider including vitamin and mineral supplements that support a healthy immune response to fight colds and flu. I want to share my top five essential vitamins and minerals with you.

Vitamin A

It can be found in various orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. This essential vitamin supports the integrity of mucous membranes, which act as a protective barrier against harmful pathogens. Consuming foods rich in vitamin A is a good idea, as it can help you fight off infections and maintain a healthy and strong immune system. [3]

Vitamin D

This crucial nutrient plays a significant role in the immune system. Known as “the sunshine vitamin”. D3 (cholecalciferol) is the active form of vitamin D produced by the skin when exposed to sunlight. It reduces the severity of the common cold or flu and the risk of acute respiratory tract infection. It helps reduce inflammation and regulates many cells, such as macrophages, lymphocytes, neutrophils, cytokines, T helper cells, and B cells. Studies show a strong correlation between low D levels and infection rates.

The recommended daily dose for maintenance is 1000IU per day. This can be obtained by exposing the arms and face for 5-10 minutes daily to low UVB radiation (early morning and late afternoon sunlight) during summer. However, in winter, D levels usually drop. Therefore, D3 supplementation can be beneficial in the winter months. Health professionals commonly recommend a dosage between 1000-5000IU per day. [4]

Vitamin C

Known for its immune-enhancing properties, it may reduce the duration and severity of symptoms. Apart from its preventive benefits, it can help reduce the severity of cold symptoms and support the immune response during illness. Dosing up on Vitamin C supports health by enhancing the activity of WBCs (white blood cells). I have seen this activity under the microscope, and it’s clear that you want more active white blood cells to fight against pathogens. A peer-reviewed study in 2017 showed that participants with vitamin C deficiency were more susceptible to infection.

Vitamin C is essential for the immune system, helping the body produce B and T cells that improve the response to germs. It helps reduce the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms. It also boosts interferon, making it harder for the virus to replicate. A dosage of 200 mg per day for maintenance can be enough to prevent a deficiency.

Treatment for the common cold or flu symptoms varies considerably. Typically, the dose is worked out according to what is known as bowel tolerance, where Vitamin C is taken to a point where it causes diarrhoea. Then, the dose is pulled back to where the bowels usually function. When the symptoms subside, take the dose back to 200 mg daily. [5]

Saltwater Gargle

Saltwater a few times per day. This will help to loosen mucus and flush out bacteria and viruses in the throat. In addition, it may give some temporary relief to a sore throat. Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of salt in 200 ml (8oz) of water, gargle for 10 seconds, and then spit out; do not swallow. [6]


Important for immune cell development and function, zinc can help fight off infections. Zinc: Adequate zinc levels are crucial for immune function and may help reduce the duration of cold symptoms. [7]

Herbs for cold and flu

Herbs for Immunity

Herbs have been used for centuries for their immune-boosting properties and ability to alleviate symptoms of the common cold and flu. Through both practical experience and peer-reviewed studies, these herbs have been shown to support the immune system.


Astragalus membranaceus is a herb commonly used in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) to enhance immune function. It works by stimulating the production and activity of white blood cells, normalising the neutrophils and lymphocyte levels. Astragalus has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may contribute to its immune-enhancing effects. Studies have shown that Astragalus supplementation can improve immune function in healthy individuals and those with weakened immune systems. [9]


Andrographis paniculata is a herb commonly used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for its immune-boosting properties. It works by stimulating the production and activity of white blood cells, particularly natural killer cells and T cells, which play a crucial role in fighting infections. Andrographis also has anti-inflammatory properties that may further support immune function. Studies have shown that Andrographis supplementation can reduce the severity and duration of respiratory tract infections and improve immune function in healthy individuals. [10]



As mentioned earlier, Echinacea may help reduce the severity and duration of cold symptoms. Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea act as immune modulators—they do not overstimulate or suppress the immune system. It keeps it at an ideal level. It is helpful in the treatment of both bacterial and viral infections. Not everyone needs Echinacea, but for those that do, I have found it beneficial in helping patients overcome colds and flu. [8]


Ginger, Zingiber officinale: is an ancient Asian spice believed to have been used by Indians and Chinese as a tonic for over 5000 years. Romans used it for its medicinal properties over 2000 years ago. Ginger can help kill bacteria that cause a sore throat. It’s an excellent preventative treatment for laryngitis to relieve a sore throat and loosen up congestion. [11]


As far back as ancient Egyptian times, in 2200 BC, garlic was used for its medicinal properties. Native Americans used garlic to treat flu-like symptoms—garlic medicinal properties: Anti-viral, Anti-septic, Expectorant, and Anti-spasmodic (calms the cough reflex). [12]


Inhalation of peppermint oil can help relieve nasal congestion and ease breathing. It is commonly recommended for nasal congestion from colds, flu and allergies. It contains an active constituent, menthol, that can calm the nervous system and relieve congestion—beneficial properties of peppermint: Anti-viral, Anti-bacterial, and Anti-inflammatory. Peppermint reduces inflammation in the mucous membranes of the throat and sinuses, acting as a decongestant, breaking up phlegm and making it easier to expel. [13]

Green Tea

Green tea, Camellia sinensis, contains several active ingredients – Catechin, Theanine Polyphenols and caffeine to support immune defence and increase alertness. It can help prevent illness and combat fatigue in persons suffering from a microbial infection. The antimicrobial action helps fight against bacteria, protozoa and viruses that cause colds and flu. It may also lower the risk of getting sick. A study of healthcare workers in aged care found it may effectively prevent influenza. [14]


Rest and Hydration

One of the most effective ways to recover from a cold or flu is to allow your body ample rest and hydration:

Get Plenty of Sleep

A cold and flu love a stressed-out-tired nervous system. Regular sleep builds immunity. So, get at least 7-8 hours of rest per night to get the health benefits. It’s also important to get quality sleep. Sleep deprivation decreases the ability to make white blood cells (natural killer cells) to fight the bugs—peer-reviewed study [15]

Stay Hydrated

Water supports your immune system and prevents mucus from becoming too thick. In addition, water helps the body function by providing what cells need to survive and removing wastes. If you get sick, drink plenty of water — no tea or coffee, as they are diuretics. Diuretics help the body get rid of fluids and may result in dehydration if water intake is low.

Key Points 

  • Taking proactive measures to strengthen your body’s ability to fight infections is important for maintaining a healthy immune system.
  • Maintain a balanced nutrition that includes immune-boosting foods like vegetables, warming foods, healthy fats and probiotics.
  • Ensure you get essential nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and zinc to support your immune system.
  • Explore natural remedies and practice self-care through rest, hydration, stress management, sleep, and exercise to boost your immune system and overall well-being.


Q: Can natural remedies prevent entirely colds and flu?

A: Natural remedies can support your immune system and reduce the risk of falling ill but cannot guarantee complete prevention. However, they may help minimise the severity and duration of symptoms.

Q: Are there any specific foods that should be avoided during cold and flu season?

A: It’s important to avoid or limit foods that can weaken the immune system, like processed foods, excessive sugar, and alcohol. Focus on a nutrient-dense diet instead.

Q: Can I take supplements without consulting a healthcare professional?

A: It’s always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or naturopath before starting any new supplements, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are on medications.

Q: Are there any natural remedies safe for children?

A: Some natural remedies, such as honey, saline nasal sprays, and elderberry syrup, may be safe for children. However, it’s crucial to consult with a paediatrician or naturopath before administering any remedies to children.

Q: Is it safe to use herbal remedies alongside prescription medications?

A: It’s important to inform your healthcare provider about any herbal remedies you are using, as they may interact with certain medications. Your healthcare provider can provide personalised advice based on your specific situation.

Q: Can stress affect the immune system?

A: Yes, chronic stress can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections. Managing stress through relaxation techniques, exercise, and self-care is crucial for maintaining a robust immune system.


Cold and flu season can be challenging, but with the right strategies, you can minimise your risk of falling ill and support your body’s healing process if you catch a cold or flu. You can strengthen your overall health and well-being by incorporating immune-boosting foods, natural remedies, rest, hydration, stress management, and regular physical activity. Prevention is key, so protect yourself from cold and flu this season. Check our main immune page to learn more about the definition and complications of the cold and flu. We hope this blog has been informative and helpful. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Stay healthy!


Precautionary Note

Before you change your routine or embark on any herbal or nutritional supplements, it is wise to check with your healthcare practitioner. No cold or flu should be taken lightly. If the cold or flu does not resolve quickly, seek medical advice. Any persistent cough, accompanied by a headache or fever and or yellow or green mucus, should be evaluated by your healthcare practitioner. Children with a persistent cough should see a doctor as soon as possible.



In health and wisdom
Brendon and Nadine 


Written by:
Brendon Groves
Clinical Naturopathic Practitioner
Founders of “Groves Naturopathics” and “The Groves Lifestyle Diet
Adv. Dip. H. Sc. Nat, Dip. H. Sc. H.M., Dip. H. Sc. Nut.
Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy, Diploma of Nutrition, Diploma of Herbal Medicine.
Special interests in Women’s health, weight loss, digestive issues, stress and anxiety, and immune support.


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