7 Natural Ways to Nip that Cold in the Bud

The current motto in my household these days is, let’s just make it through the winter with our health intact. And while we all want to avoid the coronavirus at all costs, wouldn’t it be nice to skip the sometimes crippling effects of cold and flu season altogether? In other words, why not have the healthiest winter of our lives? Vibrant health is our birthright, in all seasons. And, in my mind, this is the perfect time to upgrade your wellness routine. 

It’s an ideal time to stay uber healthy, and have the knowledge to nip the common cold in the bud, so that we can naturally heal ourselves in an empowered way, and avoid the current state of the chaotic medical establishment. No matter what the times have brought us, there’s never been a better time than the present to take control over our own health. 

That said, let’s take a look at 10 tried and true all natural ways to stay healthy during flu season, and nip those colds in the bud before they ever take hold of our immune system. 

Up your zinc

I like to supplement with zinc during the winter. Or, at the very least, a multivitamin that has an ample amount of zinc. You just want to be sure you’re not deficient in this mineral, especially if you want to keep your immune function optimal. What’s more, if you do happen to get sick this winter, taking zinc can help you recover fast. Zinc works by activating your T-lymphocytes, the cells that attack the infected cells. If you’re not big into supplements, then you’ll want to focus on whole foods containing loads of zinc. These are: pumpkin seeds, oysters, garbanzo beans, cashews, and chicken, to name a few.

person holding plate with oysters

Up your vitamin C and sip it too

Runny noses, sneezes, and sniffles, oh my! None of them are any fun, and all of them can be avoided! How? By taking loads of vitamin C, you can easily nip a cold in the bud as long as you’re drinking plenty of water, hot herbal teas, and getting ample amounts of sleep. This antioxidant-rich vitamin supports the optimal functioning of your immune cells. It also decreases the strength of pathogens from taking over in your cells. 

I recommend a good vitamin C supplement that you take each morning. But, you can reap all the benefits by eating lots and lots of vitamin C-rich foods. These are: lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. If you’re not going to take a supplement, make plenty of warm honey lemon ginger tea throughout the day to sip on as you work. 

Many herbal teas are rich in vitamin C. Whenever winter rolls around, I make sure I’m sipping one of the following teas on a daily basis:

  • Hibiscus tea
  • Rose hips tea
  • White pine needle tea
  • Thyme tea
  • Saffron tea
  • Green teas

green leaf in clear glass mug

Clean your sinus tract with a neti pot

Ever used a neti pot? If you run around in yoga circles, it’s likely you have. A neti pot is an ancient way of cleaning out the nasal passages, which when done on a regular basis, can have a highly beneficial impact on your sinuses. Irrigating the sinuses helps clear out unwanted viruses and non beneficial bacteria. Irrigation of the sinuses also soothes nasal membranes that become irritated or swollen. 

When I use a neti pot, I typically just use special nasal salt and hot water. Sea salt works as well, and you can also add a special combination of herbs that soothe the nasal lining. I typically use my neti pot while taking a hot shower. For me, it’s a calming ritual that makes me feel good. 

Eat for immune health

I believe the best possible thing we can do to prevent colds and flus is to feed our body the right foods. When we eat nutrient-dense whole foods—those that come straight from the soil of nature—we’re far less likely to get sick in the first place. So, I suggest you do most of your shopping from your local farmer’s market when you can. Eating locally grown organic produce and meats is going to be the healthiest for you and your family. You may even want to try canning your own foods, if not this winter, prep for the next.

Drink herbal teas to boost immunity

Some of my favorite teas are also incredibly beneficial for cold prevention and immunity. Many teas are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Plus, they’re soothing to the mind, body, and soul. Here are my favorite teas for sipping throughout the winter, not only because they taste great, but because they’re infinitely healthy:

  • Rooibos tea
  • Yerba mate tea
  • Lemon balm tea
  • Echinacea tea
  • Sage tea
  • Ginger tea
  • Peppermint tea
  • Chamomile tea

red and silver teapot on black table

Drink loads of water

Ever wondered why you were supposed to drink loads of water and hot herbal teas when you came down with a cold? It’s because the right fluids lubricate your mucous membranes, which in turn, helps prevent unwanted bacteria and viruses from taking their hold on your tissues. Interesting, right? This makes a great case for hydration if you want to avoid getting sick. But, it also helps nip a cold in the bud once you feel one coming on. 

Bonus tip: ever added honey to your water? Honey is a natural cough suppressant, and has been used as a healing remedy for centuries. The natural antioxidants found in honey help boost immunity and also reduce oxidative stress on our cells. Honey also acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, and may even help you sleep. I intend to sip on warm honey lemon water throughout the winter as a natural cold and flu preventative, and I encourage you to do the same! And if you have little ones you’re caring for, add honey to their water as a natural sweetener and flu preventative. They’ll love the added sweetness and maybe even get a better night of zzzz’s, as honey is believed to help us sleep. 

Spend as much time outdoors as you possibly can

The great outdoors is a natural cold and flu preventative. Just being outside in nature decreases stress while boosting your immune defenses. And when the sun’s out, even better. All that natural vitamin D is going to do your body, mind, and spirit a world of good! If you feel a cold coming on, rest is always a good idea. However, taking a nice stroll through the park while taking in the sunshine is sure to help you heal. 

The caveat when it comes to exercise is this: don’t overdo it. This goes without saying, but just in case you need to be reminded, it’s a myth that sweating out a cold actually supports your healing process. While doing some simple yoga stretches and taking a slow-paced stroll outside is a good idea, doing an intense workout is not. So, avoid burst training, HIIT workouts, or anything strenuous. 

Don’t do the following…

Another important piece of the wellness puzzle is knowing what to avoid. For instance, contrary to popular medical belief, you'll want to avoid taking antibiotics unless you absolutely must. 

Don’t take antibiotics for a cold

Why? Because antibiotics wipe out the good bacteria in your gut. This is the healthy gut flora that keeps your immune system and digestive system functioning optimally. If you’re taking antibiotics over a period of time, your immune response dampens, making your body more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria. The only time to take an antibiotic is when a doctor prescribed it for a particular bacterial infection. If you want to nip a cold in the bud, it’s best to let your body do it naturally. That said, if you do have to take an antibiotic, be sure to get yourself a high-quality probiotic like this one (insert Applied Science Nutrition’s probiotic here) to build up the healthy gut bacteria. 

Don’t stress yourself out

Stress is an immune killer. When stress builds up over time, you’re going to be more vulnerable to illnesses of all kinds. If you start to feel a cold coming on, pay attention to your stress levels and do your best to lower them through self-care. For me, self-care is taking hot baths, meditating, inhaling relaxing essential oils, and journaling by candlelight. Unplugging from the information age of technology overload is also a good idea. 

Don’t eat sugar

Sugar dampens your immune response in ways no other food does—aside from processed simple carbs like white bread, which turns into sugar once you eat it. If you must bow to your sweet tooth, do it with natural sweeteners that have health benefits. These are: local honey, pure maple syrup, stevia, erythritol, xylitol, and yacon syrup. If you have refined sugars in the house, now’s the time to get rid of them. If they’re not around, you can’t eat them. Out of sight out of mind is my motto when it comes to junk food. An added bonus, is that you’re sure to lose weight when you cut out the sugar. So, do it for your waistline as well as for cold prevention.

May you stay happy, healthy and inspired this winter. You deserve it!