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During the winter months, especially where weather gets cold, it seems like everybody’s down with some sort of cold for the duration of the season. Between runny noses, chest colds, and the flu, it can be hard to feel like you’re truly protecting yourself from illness. While there may not be much you can do to avoid germs spreading to you — aside from washing your hands and wearing a HAZMAT suit — there are ways that you can help make sure your body is prepared to fight off any incumbent bacteria or viruses: check out these natural remedies to help you keep your health up this winter.

Herbal Teas

Great for a cold or when you’re just feeling cold, herbal teas are just that — tea made from herbs that either accompany or replace the tea leaves in the drink. Some amazingherbal tea include elderberry, age, rose, plantain, echinacea, and calendula, and they help your body with everything from improving circulation to supporting digestion including managing stress which can exacerbate many health issues. Before you even feel a cold coming on, start introducing herbal teas into your diet to help you defend yourself from illness.


While those of you living in colder areas know that fruits aren’t in season locally during the winter, buying them at the supermarket shipped in from warmer weather is the next best thing when it comes to keeping yourself healthy. Fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C which boosts energy and promote a healthy immune system; look for citrus fruits, red peppers, and sweet potatoes to keep your levels up.

Leafy Green Vegetables

Another key nutrient your body needs during the winter is zinc, which helps boost our immune systems to fight off cold and flu viruses. Zinc is found in beef, oysters, lamb, and mutton, and although animal food may generally be a better source of zinc than plant foods, leafy greens like spinach and legumes are also excellent sources of zinc.


Fish, particularly cod and wild salmon, are great sources for vitamin B12 and vitamin D, which help mitigate fatigue and exhaustion and contributes to a healthy, functioning immune system, necessary to keep colds at bay and fight any that may have gotten through. On top defending your body, B12 also aids in the prevention of memory loss and reduces the risk of developing neurodegenerative disease.


Mushrooms, specifically maitake and shitake, are high in compounds called beta glucans, which are helpful polysaccharides or sugars found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and algae. Research from NYU’s Langone Medical Center showed beta glucans alter white blood cells and modulate immune function. Shiitake mushrooms not only contain those powerful beta glucans but also contain B vitamins such as B2, B5, and B6, and important minerals such as selenium, copper, manganese, and zinc.

Alongside including all of these foods in your diet to promote good health this winter, don’t forget the basics of not spreading germs. Wash your hands often, cough and sneeze into your elbow, and stay at home if you’re feeling really under the weather.