6 Powerful Ways to Boost Your Immune System This Flu Season

Every year, starting in the Fall, flu season begins. Fall and Winter are considered the official  “flu season” because this is the time that the virus becomes most prevalent. That said, you can catch it at any time of the year.

While the majority of the cases are relatively moderate, the flu can take you out for a week or more, and in some people, the standard flu can even be deadly. 

Fortunately there are protective tactics against the flu, such as washing your hands and avoiding people that are sick. But these tactics don’t always do the trick – sometimes you can take all preventive measures and still come down with the flu

The flu has been around for a very long time and fortunately there are plenty of natural and safe, research-backed ways to supercharge your immune system and support your body as it combats the standard influenza.* 

We will be discussing all of those (and more!) in this article.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • The symptoms of the flu
  • The importance of rest
  • The best herbs and supplements to support your reinforce your immune system during flu season
  • How to care for your organs to naturally protect against the flu

Symptoms of the Flu

Unlike the common cold, the flu tends to come on suddenly, and symptoms can range from relatively mild to quite severe. Common symptoms of the flu include[1]:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue 
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children) 

How Boost Your Immune System Against the Flu

If you’re feeling any symptoms of the flu, the first thing you should do is contact your healthcare provider. However, there are several natural remedies that can help you support  and maintain a healthy immune response.

Furthermore, if you want to boost your body’s immune system and promote your natural defenses against the flu, heed the advice below to help keep your immune system strong.

Get Plenty of Rest

Rest and sleep

When anyone gets sick, the go-to advice is always “take it easy and get plenty of rest.” While this is a lot easier said than done in our hectic modern lifestyle, the logic behind it remains solid. 

Sleep is your immune system’s best friend. During the day when you’re running around thinking, doing, being, you’re using up a lot of energy and creating low levels of oxidation in your body, which is only natural. 

However, when you’re sick, your body needs all that energy you’ve been using to fight off infections and calm down inflammation. Basically, it needs you to chill out so you can send some of that energy to your immune system. 

Maintaining a proper sleep cycle is vital to the production of immune cells and signaling molecules that fight off infections coming from viruses and bacteria[2].

Harness the Power of Plants

If you look back hundreds, even thousands of years ago, herbal medicine was a cornerstone of healing for many traditional cultures. Plants contain various compounds that work synergistically with your body to bring you back into balance in a safe and natural way.

You name an ailment, and there is a plant out there that can help to address it. That’s why including herbal supplements and teas should always be a part of your recovery process. 

For the flu virus specifically, the following herbs have been found to be helpful:

Ginger

Ginger is well known for its ability to help with digestion, but what many people don’t realize is that this root also contains antiviral and antibacterial properties. Some research even shows that fresh ginger can block the attachment and internalization of respiratory viruses[3].

Turmeric

As a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant root, turmeric has been shown to inhibit the influenza virus. It does this by inactivating the virus, blocking its adsorption, and inhibiting its proliferation.

Research suggests that the bioactive compound, curcumin, is responsible for many of turmeric’s antiviral activities, with curcumins antioxidant activity plays a significant role[4].

Elderberry

Due to its rich levels of antioxidants and other bioactive compounds, taking elderberry syrup has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of flu symptoms. In fact, in one study, patients taking elderberry showed a relief of symptoms four days earlier than patients taking a placebo[5]. You can find elderberry as a syrup, as a tea, in gummies, and in powder or capsule form. 

Green Tea

Green tea is rich in health-promoting compounds that have been studied for a wide variety of ailments. Theanine and catechins, in particular, seem to promote immune defenses against viral attacks.

In one study, researchers split a group of healthcare workers into two cohorts; a green tea group and a control group. They gave each cohort either a placebo (control) or green tea capsules every day for five months. At the end of the study, the researchers reported that the green tea group showed significantly fewer cases of influenza than the placebo group, giving insight into the potent antiviral activity of green tea[6].

Take Targeted Immune-Supporting Supplements

Half orange and peel with vitamin C tablets on a blue background, close up. Vitamin C pills as an alternative to citrus fruits. Immune booster concept.

The flu can show up in many different ways. For some people, they’ll feel achy and a bit tired for a few days; for others, it can send them to the hospital and even be fatal. There are many factors that play into how the flu affects you, but nutrient status is one of the most important to look at. 

There’s plenty of research out there on the flu virus and supplements that can support your immunity against viral attacks.* 

Below are some of the supplements that I’ve found to be most heavily studied and effective for shoring up your defenses against the flu.

Zinc

Zinc plays a central role in your immune system, with a hand in both nonspecific and acquired immunity. From protecting the barrier of your skin to the regulation of immune cells, without enough zinc, your body could be left susceptible to a variety of pathogens[7]. 

For the flu virus, specifically, zinc is a crucial nutrient due to its role in cell-mediated immunity. This branch of your immune system initiates the engulfment of pathogens (like the flu virus) by phagocytic immune cells[8]. Research also shows that zinc has a potential antiviral activity that could be effective in treatment against influenza[9].

Vitamins A and D

Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, is crucial for the health of your immune system. While you don’t want to go overboard with fat-soluble vitamins in general, in an acute flu state, making sure your body is replete with D is especially important. 

Research shows that reduced exposure to sunlight (which results in reduced production of vitamin D) can impair your immunity and leave you more susceptible to the flu. In fact, it’s been suggested that the seasonality of the flu may be connected to the fact that during the Fall and Winter, many people stay indoors and are exposed to less natural sunlight[10].

In one study, infants given high-dose vitamin D were significantly less susceptible to the flu. For those that did contract it, taking vitamin D resulted in shorter durations of fever, cough, and weezing[11]

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is likely the most well-recognized vitamin for immune health. And since it’s water-soluble, you really can’t go overboard (although your digestion may disagree). 

Research shows that taking vitamin C when you start experiencing symptoms of respiratory infection like the flu can decrease symptoms up to 85%[12].  

You want to take high dose Vitamin C when you have an active flu or infection. It should be noted that high doses are considered around 3000-5000 plus mg a day. 

For some, this may lead to digestive issues, so you can titrate up your vitamin C consumption to the point where your stomach can handle it. If you get loose stools, take a little bit less C and this should be your ideal dose. 

Selenium

Selenium is an essential mineral that plays a role in a number of biological processes, including reproduction, DNA synthesis, thyroid hormone metabolism, and immunitySelenium seems to play a role in both adaptive and innate immunity[14]. Selenium can also protect against viral replication, slowing down the onset of the flu. 

Unfortunately, selenium deficiency affects anywhere from 500 million to 1 billion people worldwide, with the United States being significantly impacted[22]. 

Research shows that a deficiency in the mineral selenium may provoke the flu virus to become more virulent, resulting in more severe symptoms[13].

Clear Congestion with a Neti Pot

One of the common symptoms of the flu is nasal congestion. While it may not sound like that big of a deal, nasal congestion can have a huge impact on sleep quality. 

Using a neti pot helps to rinse away debris and excess mucus from your sinuses, allowing you to breathe easier.

Although some people are turned off by the idea of a neti pot, it’s actually quite simple to use. 

As a note, always use distilled or sterilized water, you don’t want to introduce bacteria or other harmful compounds that could be in your tap water into your nasal passageway (that’s very close to your brain!). 

  1. Begin by adding a warm saline solution (either what’s provided or distilled water with salt) to your clean and dry neti pot. I also add ½ teaspoon or 15ml of colloidal silver to the water to clear mucus from my sinuses. It works like a charm!
  2. Bend over your sink and turn your gaze down to the bottom of the sink.
  3. Turn your head to a 45-degree angle.
  4. Press the spout of the neti pot against the nostril closest to the ceiling.
  5. Allow the saline solution to flow through your nasal passage in one nostril out the other, while you breathe through your mouth.
    (note: you may need to do some adjusting until the flow is seamless, and if you are very congested it may take a few seconds to start to move through.)
  6. Once the pot is empty, repeat the steps above on your other nostril.

Keep Your Liver Happy

It’s no secret that I’m a big advocate of liver health. This organ carries out more than 500 vital functions to keep your body working properly, so you can bet that it has a significant role when it comes to immunity[15]. Your liver is on the front lines of your immune system.

If you want to focus on protection against disease or virus of any sort, liver health is a huge part of the puzzle. While there are many things you can do to keep your liver happy, the overarching theme is to watch what you put in and around your body. If it’s a toxin, your liver is going to have to deal with it. Therefore:

  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Eat as clean as possible
  • Use natural personal care products (toxin-free)
  • Use natural home care products
  • Supplement with liver-supportive nutrients like broccoli sprouts, burdock root, dandelion, and schizandra berry.

By giving your liver the nourishment it needs, you allow this vital organ to do its job more efficiently.  In turn, it can support your immune system more effectively and help you avoid viruses like the flu. 

Support Your Lungs

Influenza is a respiratory infection caused by the flu virus. Therefore, if you want to keep your body strong enough to fight the flu, focusing on the most vulnerable organ, your lungs, makes sense.

There are several ways that you can support lung health. To make your lungs physically stronger, exercise and deep breathing are excellent practices[16][17][18].

If you’re already feeling tightness in your chest, however, inhaling essential oils like rosemary and eucalyptus can support a healthy inflammatory response and relief to your lungs, as well as support the production of mucus[19].

Finally, consuming antioxidant-rich foods (particularly foods rich in sulforaphane like broccoli sprouts) can help to protect the lining of your lungs from oxidative damage caused by infections[20][21].

Takeaway

Coming down with the flu can be incredibly debilitating. Body aches, coughing, fever, chills, it’s enough to put your life on hold completely. And yet, every year, we face the flu season where millions of people catch this virus and are bedridden for weeks at a time. 

Luckily, there are plenty of tactics you can take to support your body’s natural defenses and boost your immune system.

If you start feeling symptoms of the flu, the first thing you should do is grab your herbs and supplements and start dosing yourself to rev up your immunity. Be sure to get plenty of rest, and take care of your body by nourishing organs that assist in immunity like your liver and lungs.

To protect yourself against flu altogether, however, your best course of action is to take proactive steps towards boosting and reinforcing your immune system. 

And one of the top things I recommend to do just that is to start (if you haven’t already!) a solid supplement regimen that can boost your body’s natural defenses in the event that you do come into contact with the flu virus. 

A high-quality selenium supplement like Ageless AF can help support a healthy immune response and help you maintain good health during flu season.

Furthermore, a comprehensive immune and liver support blend like Daily Detox can promote the health of your liver, lungs, and immune system to keep your body running on all cylinders. 

Daily Detox includes broccoli sprouts (rich in sulforaphane to protect your lungs and liver), burdock, and dandelion to enhance liver function, and ginger, turmeric, and green tea to boost immunity — among many other health-promoting foods and herbs.*

Remember, the flu season is nothing to be afraid of as long as you know how to arm your body to optimize immunity. 

*Disclaimer: These statements have not been reviewed by the FDA. Ageless AF and Daily Detox are dietary supplements and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or virus. Please talk to your doctor before beginning any new supplement regimen.

Click Here for References+

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/symptoms.htm
  2. Besedovsky, Luciana, Tanja Lange, and Jan Born. “Sleep and immune function.” Pflügers Archiv-European Journal of Physiology 463.1 (2012): 121-137.
  3. San Chang, Jung, et al. “Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 145.1 (2013): 146-151.
  4. Dai, Jianping, et al. “Inhibition of curcumin on influenza A virus infection and influenzal pneumonia via oxidative stress, TLR2/4, p38/JNK MAPK and NF-κB pathways.” International immunopharmacology 54 (2018): 177-187.
  5. Zakay-Rones, Z., et al. “Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections.” Journal of International Medical Research 32.2 (2004): 132-140.
  6. Furushima, Daisuke, Kazuki Ide, and Hiroshi Yamada. “Effect of tea catechins on influenza infection and the common cold with a focus on epidemiological/clinical studies.” Molecules 23.7 (2018): 1795.
  7. Shankar, Anuraj H., and Ananda S. Prasad. “Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 68.2 (1998): 447S-463S.
  8. Sandstead, Harold H., and Ananda S. Prasad. “Zinc intake and resistance to H1N1 influenza.” American journal of public health 100.6 (2010): 970.
  9. Ghaffari, Hadi, et al. “Inhibition of H1N1 influenza virus infection by zinc oxide nanoparticles: another emerging application of nanomedicine.” Journal of biomedical science 26.1 (2019): 70.
  10. Mawson, Anthony R. “Role of Fat-Soluble Vitamins A and D in the Pathogenesis of Influenza: A New Perspective.” ISRN Infectious Diseases 2013 (2012).
  11. Zhou, Jian, et al. “Preventive effects of vitamin D on seasonal influenza A in infants: a multicenter, randomized, open, controlled clinical trial.” The Pediatric infectious disease journal 37.8 (2018): 749-754.
  12. Gorton, H. Clay, and Kelly Jarvis. “The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections.” Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics 22.8 (1999): 530-533.
  13. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/06/010608081506.htm
  14. Steinbrenner, Holger, et al. “Dietary selenium in adjuvant therapy of viral and bacterial infections.” Advances in nutrition 6.1 (2015): 73-82.
  15. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/liver-anatomy-and-functions
  16. Cheng, Y. J., et al. “Effects of physical activity on exercise tests and respiratory function.” British journal of sports medicine 37.6 (2003): 521-528.
  17. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/wellness/exercise-and-lung-health
  18. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/wellness/breathing-exercises
  19. Fischer, Juergen, and Uwe Dethlefsen. “Efficacy of cineole in patients suffering from acute bronchitis: a placebo-controlled double-blind trial.” Cough 9.1 (2013): 25.
  20. Jiao, Zongxian, et al. “Sulforaphane increases Nrf2 expression and protects alveolar epithelial cells against injury caused by cigarette smoke extract.” Molecular medicine reports 16.2 (2017): 1241-1247.
  21. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/broccoli-compound-may-combat-copd
  22. Aparna P. Shreenath; Muhammad Atif Ameer; Jennifer Dooley. Selenium Deficiency. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482260/#:~:text=Selenium%20deficiency%20occurs%20when%20there,with%20concurrent%20vitamin%20E%20deficiency

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Wendy Myers, FDN-P, is a detox expert, functional diagnostic nutritionist, NES Bioenergetic Practitioner, and founder of Myersdetox.com. She is the #1 bestselling author of Limitless Energy: How to Detox Toxic Metals to End Exhaustion and Chronic Fatigue . Additionally, Wendy is the host of The Heavy Metals Summit, the Myers Detox Podcast, and the Supercharged Podcast. Passionate about the importance of detox to live a long and healthy life, she created the revolutionary Myers Detox Protocol , and Mitochondria Detox kit after working with thousands of clients, as well as a range of supplements to help you detox from everyday living and maintain a healthy lifestyle!