8 Tips for a Flu-Free Winter Without a Flu Shot

No one ever wants to get sick with the flu. The body aches, congestion, fevers, chills and overall agony is just miserable. Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do that can help reduce the chances of getting a flu virus this season. By no means a comprehensive list, here are 8 of my favorite tips to enjoy a flu-free winter:

Eat Sauerkraut

Perhaps Germans have been onto a great flu fighter for years. It turns out that sauerkraut with live cultures usually contains the probiotics Lactobacillus plantarum which has been found in research to have anti-viral effects, making it a potential ally in the prevention or treatment seasonal flu viruses, among other types of viruses. Keep in mind that most of the sauerkraut found in grocery stores has been pasteurized, which kills all of the beneficial probiotics it contains, including L. plantarum. Opt for sauerkraut that is found in the refrigerator section of your health food or grocery store. The package should indicate “live cultures” or “unpasteurized” to ensure the beneficial bacteria are intact. Eat at least a half-cup daily.

Ramp Up Your Garlic Intake

Most people know that garlic is a potent antimicrobial, including anti-viral remedy. Add fresh garlic to your soups, stews, chilis, curries, salad dressings and more to reap the benefits of this potent herb. Fresh is best. Most of the antiviral benefits cannot be found in garlic powder. Ideally, chop garlic fresh and let it sit for 10 minutes before adding to your favorite recipes. Allowing it to come in contact with oxygen for 10 minutes prior to using activates garlic’s natural healing compounds for best results.

Bring Your Own Pen

Pens and pencils usually contain plentiful numbers of infectious microbes so it’s best to carry your own in your purse or pocket. That way you’ll be able to avoid using viral-coated implements found at banks, work or any other place you’ll need to sign documents.

Eat More Yogurt

Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that regular yogurt consumption can significantly cut your risk of a flu or other respiratory infection. That’s because some yogurt contains the probiotic strain Lactobacillus casei, which has been found to prevent respiratory infections, reduce the duration of one if you get it, and reduce nasal congestion linked to respiratory infection. That spells protection 3 ways. Ideally, be sure that the yogurt you choose contains live cultures and is low in sugar. Better yet, choose vegan yogurt since they don’t contain mucus-forming dairy products. Look for L. casei on the label.

Related: 3 Great Vegan Fermented Foods to Make at Home

Drink Peppermint Tea Daily

Peppermint is naturally antiviral which can help you ward off a flu, so drinking a cup of peppermint tea a few times daily can help ward off whatever flu bugs are going around. But if you still get infected, peppermint offers other help in the form of potent vapors that reduce sinus congestion linked with colds or flu.  Use one teaspoon of the dried herb per cup of boiling water.

Exhale Around Coughing or Sneezing People

It’s a simple thing but trying not to breathe in the air that someone who seems sick has just contaminated may be helpful. Of course, it isn’t something you can do for long periods of time or even know whether a flu-infected person came through without your noticing, but it can help reduce your chances of inhaling that immediately-contaminated air.

Pop a Zinc Lozenge

Zinc is a mineral that is needed for a healthy immune system. Taking a zinc lozenge throughout flu season can give your immune system a much-needed boost but also help reduce your chances of any shortfalls of the mineral, like hair loss, having a chronic immune system disorder, having a hard time overcoming infections or getting frequent infections. Choose a zinc lozenge that is free of sugar. Follow package directions.

Eat Lots of Vitamin C-Rich Produce

While the media continues to debate whether vitamin C is really helpful for preventing a flu, here’s some basic nutritional knowledge everyone should know: you can’t have a strong immune system if you’re deficient in vitamin C. So, does the frequently-maligned vitamin actually help you fight off flu infections? It sure does. After all, you can’t fight infections if your immune system isn’t up to par. Some excellent sources of vitamin C include: broccoli, tomatoes, grapefruit, oranges and parsley.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news World’s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, president of ScentsationalWellness, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life.


Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

thanks for sharing

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill8 months ago


Lesa D
Lesa D8 months ago

thank you Michelle...

lynda l
lynda l9 months ago

You can’t have a strong immune system if you’re deficient in vitamin C.

Maureen N
Maureen N9 months ago

what about enough sunlight and fresh air!

Cindy M. D
Cindy M. D9 months ago

Haven't had a flu shot in over a decade - haven't had the flu in over a decade. Maybe it's the peppermint tea...

bob P
bob P10 months ago

Thanks for the tips

Steve McCrea
Steve McCrea10 months ago

Frank, I took the data from the CDC. Not sure how you can argue. Giving "explanations" after the fact is not data - it's theorizing. The bottom line is, there's better than a 50-50 chance that the flu shot will have no positive effect on you. Very different than Polio, which is essentially 100% effective, or even pertussis which (though it can have really bad side effects) is still around 70% effective. These also convey immunity over time, while the flu vaccine does not. All in all, the recommendations above are probably as good or better than the vaccine itself. I have had the flu twice since about 1990. I might have prevented one of these two incidents with the flu vaccine. How many incidents did I prevent with a healthy lifestyle and good sanitary techniques? We'll never know, but for me at least, the flu vaccine is a total waste of time. It probably makes sense for people in vulnerable categories, but for healthy adults, I just don't think it's worth it. Of course, everyone has the right to make his/her own decision, but the data is out there, and it is accurate, whatever the reasons, to say that less than 50% immunity is the reality we need to contend with.

Ellie M
Ellie M10 months ago


Elaine W
Elaine W10 months ago

O.K. Consider our Dr's advice also. Health conditions vary between me and you.