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Mama_Cakes's avatar

Best way to boost your immune system during cold and flu season?

Asked by Mama_Cakes (9315 points ) December 10th, 2012

Ways to prevent yourself from getting THE PLAGUE. :)

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20 Answers

Bellatrix's avatar

Hand washing and avoiding touching your face.

When I feel something coming on I drink a hot toddie before going to bed, or/and take garlic and horseradish pills. A friend yesterday said she eats whole garlic cloves and another said she makes ginger tea by grating ginger into a teapot and allowing it to steep in boiling water.

zenvelo's avatar

What @Bellatrix says, plus Vitamin C and zinc. Zicam at the first hint of a symptom. And wash your hands again! And stay away from infected people.

JLeslie's avatar

@Bellatrix Took the words right out of my mouth, don’t touch your face. It doesn’t boost your immune system, but it keeps the germs from getting into your body.

Boosting immune, what I know for sure is being low in iron makes me feel weak and lethargic, and cannot get enough rest, and I tend to catch colds more easily. It is dangerous to take too much iron, so it is best to know for sure with a blood test if you need it or not. I am so so low in iron right now, taking bunches to try and get my strength up. They are reporting TN, where I live, as having a lot of flu already. If your lips and tongue tends to be pale pink or even almost beige, you are likely low in iron.

Eat well, lots of veggies.

Sleep, sleep, get enough sleep.

marinelife's avatar

Wipe down your grocery cart with a sanitary wipe.

Wash your hands frequently for 30 seconds (two verses of Old McDonald’s Farm) in warm to hot water.

Carry anti-bacterial wash and use when you cannot wash your hands.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, to all of the above, and always use the disinfectant wipey thingies in the store on your shopping carts. Also, get plenty of sleep. EVERY time I am sleep deprived I get sick.

McCool's avatar

I agree with the others about handwashing, but i’ve also heard that exercise helps to boost the immune system! So, y’know maybe jog to the sink?

Coloma's avatar

@McCool LOL
Yes, true…good point!
I am getting up now to jog in place for a few minutes. :-p

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Washing hands and getting a good night’s sleep.

My Grandfather used to have “moose milk”, Bourbon and milk.

McCool's avatar

@Coloma I’m doing lounges as we speak (type)!

Coloma's avatar

@McCool Haha go,go,gooo!
Also…stay away from alcohol in the winter, it lowers your immune sytem too. I am not a big drinker,but I SWEAR..every time I have a few drinks in the winter I get sick too. Bah humbug!
Guess I just have to stick to my Happy Brownies. lolol The medicinal herb. ;-)

geeky_mama's avatar

My personal way?
– hand-washing, lots of sleep & exercise (esp. sweating in the outdoors/cold as I shovel—it seems to really help!)

When that fails, I’ve tried and had good results with Emergen-C (name brand vitamin-fizzy drink). I travel a lot for work and see a LOT of flight attendants and fellow freq. travelers with their Emergen-C tablets, too.

Kardamom's avatar

Yes to everything above and carry a pouch of dis-infecting wipes with you in your purse. Just because the table in the restaurant where you’re going to eat your chalupa has been wiped free of crumbs, does not mean that it was dis-infected. The waitress or server has probably been using that same wet towel/rag since she got there at the beginning of her shift, and that rag has touched snot and poo germs that have been left on the other tables, but I doubt that that rag has been sanitized, ever. The last thing that may have been on that table in Denny’s or Taco Bell could have been somebody’s cute baby rear end, or her equally cute older brother’s snot covered fingers. Always wipe the table before you put anything, including your own hands or purse or tray of food onto it.

Same goes for shopping carts, and don’t just wipe the handle, wipe the seat, top and bottom where the babies sit, and around the whole rim of the cart section where little kids with snotty fingers hold onto the rail.

Beware of touching ATM key pads and elevator buttons with your bare hands. If you must touch them, or gas pumps, use some hand sanitizer immediately after touching them.

If you see a sick person, especially a little kid, give them a wide berth. Don’t touch them!!!

And don’t even get me started on the magazine racks on airplanes. You know the one that’s on the seat in front of you? People sneeze and cough then stick their snot covered fingers into those racks. The airlines DO NOT clean inside of those racks and often folks use the racks to stash their used tissue. Even if the tissue has been removed, the snot and germs are still in there. Wipe down the tray table too for the same reasons as above.

Avoid places where there are lots of little kids. They are snot and poo havens.

In addition to the other Rx’s listed above, at the first twinge of a sore throat or sniffles, take Extract of Elderberry I use the brand called Sambucol.

Mariah's avatar

Get vaccinated against the flu, and keep hands away from the face. I have an awful nail biting habit which is magically easier to keep under control when I hear people in the lecture hall with me coughing away.

burntbonez's avatar

I think the flu vaccination is the most effective thing you can get. This is especially important for small children and their parents.

jaytkay's avatar

Flu vaccine

PeppermintBiscuit's avatar

Too many people overlook the flu vaccine. I only get the flu if I put off getting the vaccine for too long.
I hear so many people say, “But I never get the flu, I don’t need it.” Then they complain when they catch a cold. What they don’t realize is that the flu vaccine has something in it that boosts your immune system (temporarily). One year at work, I was the only person who got the flu shot. When every single other employee caught cold soon after, I was the only one who didn’t get it – and I usually catch everything. Of course the flu shot doesn’t protect against the common cold specifically, but it does give a temporary boost to your immune system. Never a bad thing.

dabbler's avatar

Apologies in advance for the run-on dabbler-classic essay.

Your immune system is your friend, must treat it so.

I do wash my hands, with soap, but I almost never disinfect anything.
The stuff you’d use to disinfect things is often more harmful, in repeating doses, than whatever to which you’d be exposed.
I have a chlorine filter on my drinking water and on my shower/tub.
Chlorine’ll kill you, slowly. If you use bleach to swab the decks in the lavatory then get out of there fast and air it out well before you use the room.

I avoid antibiotics unless absolutely necessary (e.g. dental surgery or staph infection).
If you have a staph infection then they can save your life. Other than that they can beat up your immune system to the point that it will roll over every time something comes along, and you need antibiotics to get you through and and every mundane infection.

I eat salads and other raw foods that have helpful immune system enzymes.
I take vitamins B and C and D supplements and a few others.
D is especially helpful for the immune system.
Propolis, especially in a non-alcoholic medium, is good for immune system support.

I’m far from holy about what I consume. I am a vegetarian but I drink alcohol and eat pizza.
Just get a salad or some raw foods or some close-to-nature food in there often enough to keep your digestive system alive. Cooked food is dead. Mix it up with some live stuff like sprouts to help you get whatever nutrients you can out of the rest of the stuff you put in your mouth.

When I do get sick (happens every few years or so, I’ve taken two sick days in the past six years) I take a supplement called “Well-Max” that is a bunch of immune system support herbs plus some cayenne pepper heat.
Let a mild fever run its course. It’s good for you and helps get rid of what ails you. Do some mild stretching as the fever breaks to help the toxins out of your system and avoid them settling into your muscles (achy!).

Nasal irrigation is a god(ess)send if you get some head cold thing going on. Look into it. Blowing your nose is a pale example of the clarity possible with a good nasal irrigation procedure. Nobody needs bus exhaust stuck up in their head. A bit of sea salt and a neti pot can do you more good than a case of DayQuill.
When you get more used to it you can do it regularly in the shower w/o the salt. Practice before you try that.

Drink a lot of water, especially in environments where the air is heated or cooled and there is little moisture in it. if there is any heat on keep a humidifier going in your sleeping space at least. Your nasal passages and lungs will thank you. Put one in the living room too if you can.

This above might sound hippy-dippy airy-fairy but I almost never get sick any more. Up until I was in my mid-20’s I used to be on anti-biotics a few times a year for rhinoviruses or an infected this or inflamed that. Since then, the one time I was seriously sick in the past few decades was a time when after a month in Tibet I got food poisoning at the end of the trip. I was in Kathmandu when I let my guard down and had, for no good reason, quit taking a bit of propolis daily (which I like to do when travelling but when at home I don’t take daily). I had a fever over 101 for about five days. That was transcendental but not at all any fun.

wundayatta's avatar

I am also faithful with the flu vaccine. My employer gives it free to anyone who wants it. I think they like to keep us ready and able to work. I don’t know why they want to do that, though.~

JLeslie's avatar

Just a reminder, the flu vaccine helps with the flu and nothing else. So, getting the vaccine is great, but you still need to be prudent about sleep, washing hands, and not touching your face to avoid colds, bacterial sinus infections, strep throat, mycoplasma pneumonia, etc. Flu is the most common concern since it knocks you on your ass for a good four days or more, and not much you can do for it, and it is very contagious.

I saw someone mentioned vitamin D above, I think that is a great suggestion, especially since you live so far north. If you go to the doctor ask them to check your vitamin D levels, and also as I mentioned above iron. Your GYN should be able to do it if you see her regularly, or any other doctor. No matter what it probably can’t hurt to take at least 2000 IU’s of D daily. Many doctors are now recommending 6,000 daily. I take much much more, but I know my levels are very low, and I get my calcium levels checked regularly, which is a precaution when you take high doses of D.

CardAngel's avatar

@dabbler , Doing nasal irrigation in the shower with tap water is dangerous. Neti pot/nasal irrigation with tap water amoeba deaths

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