Stay Healthy: How to Prep for Flu Season

You may still be thinking about beaches, baseball, and barbecues, but flu season is fast approaching. People tend to come down with the flu in fall and winter, while colds are common throughout the year. Boosting your body’s natural immunity is the key to staving off these viruses and reducing their symptoms. Herbal remedies have been used safely for thousands of years to treat colds and flu, and recent scientific studies prove that they work. Flu Fighters Echinacea is approved in Germany for the treatment of colds and flu, and it’s rapidly gaining popularity here. Recent studies find positive results, including one that supports the concept that “certain echinacea preparations can alleviate ‘cold and flu’ symptoms . . . by inhibiting viral growth.” The study tested echinacea on several viruses and found it worked in every case. Lozenges and syrups containing elderberry extract also scored well in two studies. Patients with flu saw significant improvements in their symptoms (fever, cough, headache, and nasal congestion) compared to patients who received a placebo. Herbal teas can help boost immunity and treat cold and flu symptoms. Anise, ginger, lemongrass, licorice, and sage are among the many options. Diet Matters Eating a variety of plant foods rich in vitamins A, C, and E and the minerals selenium and zinc can ensure that your immune system is prepared to battle viruses. Colorful fruits and vegetables are high in these vitamins. For example: Carrots and sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A, citrus fruits and bell peppers are great sources of vitamin C, and tomatoes provide vitamin E. Nuts and seeds score high in selenium, and zinc is abundant in beans and lentils.