There are few things worse than catching a cold, cough, sore throat – or worse still – the flu. What starts with the shivers or a niggly throat, soon becomes a full-blown winter illness, leaving you feeling miserable and exhausted.
The good news is, there are effective, natural cold remedies you can use to boost your immune system while easing those pesky symptoms.
Leafy greens for multivitamins
Leafy greens are packed full of nutrients including vitamins A, C and B vitamins, plus they help digestion by increasing the hydrochloric acid levels in your stomach, reducing heartburn and supporting your liver functioning.
These green vegetables are great for supporting your immune system in the long-term. The more bitter the greens taste, the better they are for you. If you’re looking for recipe inspiration why not try green smoothies and kale salads?
Red pepper for vitamin C
Red peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, not to mention, they also include carotenoids and vitamin E. During cold and flu season, vitamin C will boost your immune system and fight off unwanted illnesses. Or if you’re already sick, they’ll give you the nutrient boost you need.
Parsnips for stress
Parsnips aid brain function and serotonin production, helping you stay calm and reducing stress. They’re also rich in minerals and support healthy bones, blood cells and even help to clear your skin.
Coconut oil for flu
The healthy fat in coconut oil contains antiviral properties, which are still present when heated, so you can cook with it and it’ll still retain its goodness.
Coconut oil also helps to soothe and lubricate your throat if you’re suffering from a nasty cough and cold. We recommend Crede coconut oil because it’s 100% organic and chemical-free.
Ginger for nausea
Ginger is a great natural alternative to over-the-counter medication for relieving an upset stomach. The root is a strong remedy for nausea but also contains a powerful compound called gingerol which helps period cramps, bloating and indigestion and helps to keep bacterial infections at bay.
This great all-rounder can be consumed in many ways too, from smoothies to stir fries, so it’s easy to incorporate it into your diet when you’re ill. You could also try ginger tea, which is particularly soothing for a sore throat too.
Lemon water for headaches and digestion
Dehydration is one of the biggest causes of headaches. However, adding lemon juice to your water is an effective relief, as not only does it add flavour but the citrus properties help detoxify the liver and aid digestion.
Pineapple for colds
Pineapple is not only packed full of vitamin C, it is also the only naturally occurring source of bromelain – an antioxidant and super anti-inflammatory enzyme. The combination of vitamin C and bromelain prevents sinus and respiratory inflammation.
Elderberry for cold and flu
Elderberry is a brilliant all-rounder for cold and flu season. It contains antioxidant, antiviral, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory and antidepressant properties.
According to research it also beats blueberries, cranberries, goji berries and blackberries for flavonoid content. Studies have also found consuming elderberry when suffering cold and flu-like symptoms can reduce the duration and severity of the illness.
Rather than just taking vitamin C on its own, look for immune-boosting supplements that contain elderberry as well. We like Solal’s Fluciherb supplement because it prevents both viral and bacterial infections thanks to a mix of elderberry, vitamin C, ginseng and propolis.
Mushrooms for an immune boost
Eating a varied, healthy diet is important all year round, but even more so in the winter when everyone starts sneezing. Mushrooms – just like brazil nuts – are brimming with selenium (a mineral which helps the body fight off the flu) and immune-boosting antioxidants. Add a few button mushrooms to your next stir-fry.
Chicken broth for relieving congestion
A homemade chicken broth is a great lunch idea when you’re feeling fluey. Not only will the hot soup warm you up and give you energy (thanks to the carbohydrate-heavy noodles), but studies suggest broth works as a decongestant to stop the build-up of mucus.
Cinnamon for soothing a sore throat
Cinnamon is traditionally used in Chinese medicine to strengthen and increase immunity. Dissolve a small amount of powdered cinnamon in a little hot water, then add a spoonful honey to make a warming, sore throat beating drink.
Yoghurt for preventing a cold
Some scientists believe that there is a link between low vitamin D levels and catching a cold. More research is needed, but adding a little plain, natural, probiotic yoghurt to your breakfast cereal certainly won’t do you any harm!
Honey for treating a cold quickly
It’s no wonder we all reach for the honey when feeling under the weather. Honey has been used for centuries to soothe minor illnesses, like sore throats and a tickly cough, because it provides a protective barrier against germs, cutting the lifespan of a cold.
Apple cider vinegar for avoiding and treating a cold
Apple cider vinegar really is a kitchen cupboard hero! Studies suggest that the blood becomes more alkaline when the body is fighting off a cold. Apple cider vinegar taken medicinally helps with acid levels.
Add a little to a bowl of boiling water then breathe in the vapours to help with congestion, or simply take a capful dissolved in water every day to strengthen immunity during flu season.
We’re fans of Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar because it’s raw and unfiltered, plus it’s made with 100% organic apples.
Salt for getting rid of germs
Salt is renowned for its antiseptic qualities, so gargle with salt water when your throat is sore to kill any germs.
A freelance writer and editor, with 15 years’ experience in the media industry. With a passion for health and fitness, Tammy loves nothing more than researching the latest wellness trends. And if she’s not running around after her sweet four-year old daughter, you’ll find Tammy on her bike, in the gym or exploring the great outdoors – followed by a good coffee, of course!