7 Flu Shot Alternatives To See You Through The Winter

As the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, everyone starts thinking about the flu. The virus can spread from person to person, even from 6 feet away! This can mean trouble when you’re just trying to survive work, school, and the upcoming holidays. And while the flu virus is in the air all year round, its activity increases from December to February, a time known as the flu season.

But should you get the flu shot? The vaccine, which changes each year, helps the body make antibodies against the influenza virus. However, you might be wondering if there’s a more natural way. With the medicinal power of food, there most certainly is. Some can destroy viruses while others enhance the immune system. In many cases, a food has the ability to do both. Here’s what you should eat to naturally – and efficiently – avoid the flu.1 2


1. Elderberry

Elderberry juice has been used as an anti-viral since ancient times

Elderberry is high up on the list of ancient anti-viral remedies. In its juice form, studies have found that it can kill human influenza viruses. Better yet, elderberry stimulates the immune system, giving you an extra dose of protection. You can also find elderberry as tea, syrup, supplements, or lozenges. If you have a sweet tooth, add dried elderberries to oatmeal or trail mix.3


2. Echinacea

Echinacea root has the ability to increase the immune cells

Like elderberry, Echinacea is a traditional immune booster. It keeps the body on guard by increasing immune cells like macrophages and neutrophils! In turn, the influenza virus will have a hard time taking over. And if you already have the flu? Echinacea suppresses the virus and eases symptoms, making recovery a breeze. Take it as a tea, supplement, or extract.4


3. Astragalus Root

Astragalus root is a Chinese herb that has anti-viral properties

In ancient Chinese medicine, astragalus root is a respected anti-viral herb. It’s all thanks to the rich cocktail of flavonoids, minerals, and amino acids. In the body, these nutrients bring on the activation and spreading of immune cells. Specifically, phagocytes get an excellent boost. These cells “eat” harmful particles so you can stay in tip-top shape. And like most herbs, astragalus is available as tea, supplements, or extracts.5


4. Turmeric

Turmeric has antibacterial properties and is a powerful antioxidant

Turmeric, also known as “Indian gold,” has major flu-busting compounds. Curcumin enhances the immune system while germacrone suppresses viruses. As a result, influenza can’t replicate and spread, putting an end to the infection before it even starts. To enjoy turmeric, add the dried spice to soup or smoothies for a zesty kick. You can also take it as tea, supplements, or extracts.6 7


5. Ginger

Ginger is an ancient herb that will enhance immune function

Ginger is another traditional medicine. Its active compounds like zingerone, gingerol, and shogaol have immune-stimulating properties that can’t be matched! Plus, with its anti-bacterial properties, you’ll have extra protection against other germs. Fresh ginger tastes amazing in cooked meals, smoothies, or juices. For more convenient options, take supplements or extracts.8


6. Cordyceps

The medicinal mushroom Cordyceps will stimulate natural killer cells

Flu season is prime time to use cordyceps. This medicinal mushroom improves cellular function by stimulating natural killer cells, a must during the flu season. In fact, according to a 2014 animal study, the effect is so strong that it can suppress the influenza virus. Are you new to medicinal mushrooms? Check out your local health store for tasty mushroom coffee, extracts, and drinks.9 10


7. Zinc-Rich Foods

Zinc-rich foods will allow for improve the function of immune cells

Everyone reaches for vitamin C during the flu season. But if you want the upper hand, top it off with zinc. This mineral is actually added to vitamin C supplements, proving just how important it truly is. Zinc keeps cytokines on track. These proteins regulate cell signaling, making sure immune cells are doing their job. Without enough, the immune response will slow down. Aside from supplements, eat zinc-rich foods like oysters, crab, fortified cereal, and cashews. The body doesn’t store this nutrient, so be sure to get 8 grams a day if you’re a woman and 11 grams a day if you’re a man.11 12

These natural flu shots will not make the flu vanish overnight, but making them a part of your regular diet is a good preventive measure. Come flu season, you’ll be glad you did.