Do you have a runny nose and feel yourself shivering even though it’s not really cold? It’s likely a cold or flu because it’s that time of year again! So, at the first symptoms—or, even better, before—try our tried and tested methods to fight viruses.

Cold or flu: What’s the difference?

We usually get colds and flu— officially known as influenza—when there are sudden temperature changes, especially after exposure to wind or cold weather.

During the first stage, these viruses develop in a way that is identical. However, a defining feature of colds is how they affect the head: sinus congestion, a prickly throat and watery eyes. Influenza, on the other hand, spreads to other parts of the body such as the lungs, muscles and joints. Also, unlike the flu, a common cold doesn’t usually cause fever and you won’t end up in bed.

Here are our top 8 tips for keeping colds and flu at bay!

1) Stay hydrated

When you notice the first symptoms, keep hydrated with pure water. Try drinking hot herbal tea to relieve congestion and rehydrate your mucous membranes. Tea, coffee and alcohol are not recommended during these first stages.

2) Stimulate your immune system

Many people believe that we can get a cold or flu simply by “catching a cold.” However, when our natural defence mechanisms become weaker, it opens the door to bacteria and viruses. Now is the time to stimulate the primary components of our immune system, such as the lymph and spleen. Intestinal health is just as important because that’s where 70% of our body’s defenses are situated.

  • For the lymph:

Have you ever tried dry brushing? When done daily, this simple technique stimulates your lymphatic system and helps it eliminate toxins.

  • For the spleen:

In Chinese medicine, the spleen (immune system) and the pancreas (insulin secretion) are interrelated. As a result, when you treat your pancreas, you treat your spleen at the same time! To do this, avoid eating too much sugar and gluten. In herbal medicine, astragalus is a great plant to try out.

  • For the bowels:

A healthy gut is essential for maintaining a strong immune system.

3) Try garlic

Garlic is undoubtedly one of the best medicinal plants out there! It’s a safe home remedy and highly effective against colds and flu. It also strengthens the immune system by stimulating the production of white blood cells. What’s more, its antibacterial and antiviral properties are well-known. Consuming extra garlic is thus a great way to stay healthy.

4) Eat ginger

Ginger root is one of the most popular remedies in the world and is used widely in traditional Chinese medicine. It is recommended for preventing coughs, among other things. Drinking a ginger-based herbal tea will help clear your bronchial tubes and make breathing easier. Ginger is not only effective against chills and fever caused by the flu, but it also relieves nausea.

5) Stay away from bad juice

Avoid so-called “fruit” drinks and opt for juice with no added sugar or, even better, freshly squeezed fruit juice made by hand or with a juicer.

6) Take your vitamin C

Focus on foods that are high in vitamin C, such as lemons, oranges, broccoli, etc. Vitamin C strengthens the immune system against infections, so it’s a valuable ally in fighting colds and flu.

7) Eliminate dairy products

To get rid of colds, some people gulp down a large glass of milk. However, it is important to mention that dairy products should generally be avoided at this time. They overburden the digestive system and thus increase mucus production, in addition to being too acidic.

8) Avoid sugary foods

Foods that are high in sugar should be avoided when symptoms are present. Numerous studies have shown that sugar attacks our white blood cells, the transparent cells that circulate in the blood and lymph. White blood cells have a nucleus, and they defend the body by consuming microbes and secreting substances capable of neutralizing toxins. To keep your white blood cell count high enough to combat viruses, sugary foods and drinks should be avoided as much as possible.

Stay healthy!

Christine Lacaze, N.D.