7 Natural Cold and Flu Fighting Foods

Now more than ever, it’s important to learn these natural cold and flu-fighting foods to help support your health. While I take care of my immune system year-round through diet and lifestyle, when my kids get sick or I feel a tickle in my throat I often turn to a few key foods for extra support. 

 “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” 

Isn’t it wonderful that we can eat our way into better health? We can even strengthen our immune system while enjoying delicious plant-based foods and beverages. I love that! 

 

Immune-boosting foods

Do you know why a particular food supports the immune system? The simplified version is that foods high in antioxidants, like vitamin C, E, and A help because they reduce free radical damage which can damage all cells in the body, including all of the cells used by the immune system. So, the key is to reduce the damage so the immune system can work at full capacity. 


Since there are a lot of natural cold and flu-fighting foods that support the immune system, I find it is best to pick the foods that have antioxidant power AND that I like the taste of. That way I am excited to take my “medicine”. If you missed the first post in this series about boosting your immune health, make sure you read 5 Ways to Boost Your Immune System.

Now for the fun part, I am going to share with you my absolute favorite antioxidant foods because they taste amazing to me, they are cost-effective and they are SIMPLE. I hope you find one that gets you into the kitchen to discover the healing benefits of plants.

Here are the antioxidant superstars that I prefer! 

lemon natural cold and flu fighting foods

Lemon

Lemon is packed with vitamin C and delivers around 90% of the recommended daily value – it’s like taking a supplement. That is so impressive to me. My favorite way to enjoy lemon is sipping on a warm mug of lemon water to start my day-  it is such a comfort. And an added bonus is that it preps your digestive system for breakfast. That’s a win-win. Also, you can drink it any time of the day of course, and I find that adding a few slices in my water bottle is a delightful way to get even more Vitamin C in. 

Goji Berries Natural Cold and Flu Fighting Food

Goji Berries

Goji berries are also antioxidant superstars and have been an important part of Chinese medicine for 5,000 years for good reason. They are rich in antioxidant vitamins C and E as well as B vitamins. Not only do I love that they taste great and support my immune system but they are known to be great for skin health and anti-aging. Just another reason to give them a try. 

 

I like to add these to my oatmeal or to a smoothie. I also like to make tea by adding a 1/4 cup of berries to one cup of boiling water. Let it steep for at least 5 minutes and drink the tea hot or chill to make iced-tea. Once the tea is brewed you can eat the plumped up berries…which are also a complete protein source! These are the goji berries in my pantry.

 

Ginger

I bet you have heard about how anti-inflammatory ginger is. That is because of its high antioxidant levels. Antioxidants reduce inflammation because they reduce damage. Ginger also improves circulation and soothes the digestive tract, so it is extra supportive if you have any tummy trouble. 

 

My favorite way to enjoy ginger is making tea, noticing a theme yet? I like warm, cozy drinks! I drink a mug at least once a day, or more if I am already under the weather. My kids like it too….with a spoonful of raw honey. 

morning routine mom lemon water 

Here’s how to make it: 

Cut off 2” of ginger and slice into flat slivers.

Add 2 cups of filtered water in a saucepot, plus a cinnamon stick. 

Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. 

Strain, add in the juice of half a lemon. Sweeten with a little raw honey if needed.

 

Turmeric cold and flu fighter

Turmeric

Have you heard of golden milk? Its key ingredient is another anti-inflammatory super root –turmeric. Like ginger, its immune-boosting ability lies in its high antioxidant levels. When you consume it fresh you will want to add a little black pepper to help activate it….don’t worry, you can’t really taste it! 

In addition to being one of the best natural cold and flu-fighting foods, turmeric also has anti-cancer properties. It has the cancer-fighting compound curcumin, which has all those anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits.

 

Medicinal Mushrooms

Did you know that mushrooms are cancer-fighting superfoods? They are well documented to slow tumor growth and support the immune system in all of its functions. Even white button mushrooms are beneficial. But for an extra boost give some of the medicinal mushrooms, which have been in use since 3,000BCE, a try: 

  • Chaga 
  • Cordyceps 
  • Lion’s Mane 
  • Maitake 
  • Oyster 
  • Reishi 
  • Shiitake 
  • Turkey Tail 

Their anti-inflammatory properties make them another natural cold and flu-fighting food. One way I love to incorporate these mushrooms varieties is by drinking one of Four Sigmatic’s elixirs warmed up in my favorite mug. 

kombucha and goji berries

Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented beverage that supports better gut health. That means it also supports your immune defense system! We make our own, but there are lots of good ones on the market. Look for ones low in sugar and be mindful of the serving size. I like to make a  batch flavored with goji berries, and then I eat the berries for a natural energy boost! 

This fizzy drink is full of probiotics, as the tea and sugar ferment, it creates a healthy bacteria that are good for the gut. Start with a simple one that is ginger or apple flavored. My kids love it too!

 

morning routine for moms lemon water

The best natural cold and flu fighter? Water.

Water isn’t full of antioxidants but hydration is essential for our bodies to function efficiently. Dehydration can compromise your immune system by reducing the volume of lymphatic fluid, which circulates white blood cells and cleans out toxins. Dehydration also leads to inflammation and any time we are inflamed the immune system is taxed since it is called on to do damage control. 

Perhaps there is a reason I am drawn to hot beverages with medicinal foods…after all I think our bodies know what we need and hydration is vital, especially for healthy immune function. You can eat all the natural cold and flu-fighting foods, but if you are dehydrated, your body’s immune system will still be compromised. 


Air

Not technically a food, but still so important. And here’s why.

Most of us don’t think about consuming air as we think about consuming liquids and foods, but we should. What comes in with our air affects our health and our immune system. When we breathe in toxins such as chemicals and mold, our bodies respond with inflammation which, over time, taxes the immune system. 

 

I am a huge fan of filtering my indoor air and I personally use Air Doctor. It is SO quiet and I feel so much peace of mind knowing that their filter is certified to remove mold spores (100%), smoke, dust, cat and dog dander, virus, bacteria, and pollen; and the carbon filter will reduce many VOC’s such as formaldehyde as well as many other odor/odorless chemicals.

It feels so good to support the health of my family too. I may not be able to get my kids to drink mushroom tea so knowing that the air they are breathing in is free from toxins and pollutants makes me feel like a good mom. You can get your own Air Doctor Pro and save $300 automatically when shopping with me.

Does air doctor kill the flu virus

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Now, I know even a small list can be overwhelming, so I want to urge you to pick the ONE thing that caught your attention from my list of natural cold and flu-fighting foods. What feels exciting to try AND is doable? This resource will be here for you anytime you want to add another one in, so no rush. Try what feels good to you and let me know if you have any questions. I am here for you…with a warm mug of medicine cupped in my hands.

Natural Cold and Flu Fighting Foods

You have the power to stay healthy through the cold, flu and coronavirus season by paying a little more attention to HOW you are eating, drinking, sleeping, managing stress, and caring for your skin and house. You can boost your immune system with these simple practices, and share these ideas with your loved ones.

ready to try online pilates_

I’m a huge fan of doing online pilates. After I had to give up tennis for awhile, I needed to fill a big void. Pilates was the one workout that brought more joy and strength to my life, instead of sweat and stress.

There’re so many reasons why an online pilates program is the easiest thing. There are way less excuses involved. I can do it in my pajamas, don’t have to get to a gym, and can skip my cold basement where my Peloton lives. (I would ride the bike more often if it wasn’t so cold and dark in the gym.)

I’ve found pilates to be the sweet spot when it comes to a workout routine. I found a pilates program that’s flexible for a busy mom like me. My schedule is different every.single.day. I make time for a class right after I send the kids to school, and yes, I’m often still in my pajamas. (I’ve given the lawn guys a show a couple of times.)

Making Pilates part of my Morning Routine

I few months ago I wrote about my morning routine. It may be different than others you’ve read as I’m not a huge fan of forcing yourself to get up at 5:00am to start “hustling.” No. For me, my morning routine has become a way of starting my day from a place of strength and serenity, nourishing myself, tending to my kids, and then finishing the routine AFTER I get them off to school.

Pilates fits into this either just after the kids go to school, or before 7am if the dog decides to wake me up early. You just never know with kids and a puppy in the house what your wake up time will be, right?

online-pilates-free-class

How Pilates fixed my Sciatica

This fall, I noticed a strange pain down my leg every time I walked. We had just  brought our new puppy home so I was walking a lot more throughout the day. Not strenuous by any means, but I realized I needed to deal with the pain. I finally went to see a sports medicine doctor and she quickly recognized the symptoms as sciatica.

I’ve had it before, but this time it was a lot worse. Due to a mix of really long car rides (ahem, lacrosse tournaments out of state didn’t help) and a lack of strength in my core, the pain was getting tough to bear.

I had taken a long break from Pilates after traveling to Paris and getting the new puppy. When the pain started I didn’t want to do anything to aggravate it. Turns out, what I really needed to solve my sciatica was getting back to a consistent pilates program.

After getting “back on the mat” so to speak, my sciatica resolved within one week. TWO WEEKS. That was enough to stretch things out that needed it, and get my core back in shape. Everyone will react different as we come to the mat from different places. But I do believe it’s a great starting point for healing after an injury, or use it during a recovery period.

How I Found Pilates Online

We are so lucky we can test out different instructors via YouTube for pilates and a whole host of other classes. When I looked for free pilates online, there were lots of choices. But you have to find the style that matches what you are looking for.

I think it was another blogger who first recommended Robin’s classes online. After doing one of the 5 day challenges, I was hooked.

Online Pilates program

These are legitimate workouts where I’m sore the next day. And that’s just a 15 minute workout! There’s long workouts and short workouts. I’m telling you, this is the easiest thing to fit into the margins of your day. If I can do it with my puppy jumping all over me, you can do it too.

 

The Balanced Life Sisterhood

After doing the challenge series of pilates classes online, I decided to test out The Sisterhood program with The Balanced Life. It includes the following:

  • a huge library of online pilates classes
  • recipe ideas
  • community support
  • tracking your workouts/calendar view of what to do each day

I know I’m better with my exercise goals when I have it scheduled in advance. Now I just log in and check the calendar for the workout of the day. If it’s too long for the time I have, I save it for the weekend. (where no classes are slotted in so we can all play catch up!)

The Sisterhood is now open to new members for a limited time. Learn more at The Balanced Life Sisterhood, and I also got a code for $20 off your annual membership! Use code: emily20

online pilates app

These 10 tips for better sleep improve your quality of sleep. Skimping on ZZZ’s can lead to decreased cognitive function, heart disease, and weight gain.

“Choosing a safe sunscreen for your family is such an important job as a mom. I’ve tried to explain the science behind what makes something a safe sunscreen, and what we need to look for when choosing a product. This is updated with the best natural sunscreens for 2019.

ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SAFE SUNSCREEN

As the sun gets stronger and days longer, this is the time of year when I’m asked how to choose a safe sunscreen. I started paying more attention to sunscreen ingredients when I had to put it on my first born child. Since then, I’ve learned a lot more about what’s safe and what’s not. I’m also covered in moles from head to toe, and I see them now on my kids too. I’ve had a least 10 surgeries to have them removed, and often needed a second round to remove the margins. My family has a history of skin cancer, and my husband’s family has a history of melanoma. I’m truly diligent about sun protection, and it comes from both safe sunscreen and protective clothing.

Safe Sunscreen: Mineral based ingredients

The ingredients to look are zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or both. These are mineral based ingredients, which physically block the sun from absorbing into your skin. They are your safest choice, as they don’t disrupt your hormones, and don’t actually penetrate your skin. Zinc in particular is healing for the skin. Think about all the diaper rash creams on the market, they all use zinc oxide, which has a healing mechanism. Even more interesting, there are studies that show zinc may help your body assimilate Vitamin D from the sun better. As our sunscreen wears off, we are going to be exposed to some sunshine until we reapply, which will produce Vitamin D on the skin. If that gets absorbed better from the presence of zinc, it’s a win, win.

Unsafe Sunscreen: Chemical ingredients

Despite us growing up with chemical based sunscreen, we now know they are harmful to our health. The chemical sunscreens block our skin’s ability to breathe. That’s not a good thing. Studies also recognize that many of the chemicals being used are disrupting our hormones. This is so important, especially on little bodies! These are the chemicals you don’t want to see on the ingredient list of your sunscreen:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Benzophenone
  • Butylparaben (always run when you see “paraben” anywhere!)

Additionally, methyliosothiazolinone should also be avoided. It’s a skin allergen, and was deem unsafe by the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety back in 2015. Yet it’s in 44 sunscreen on the market today in the US. It’s a chemical preservative and it doesn’t belong getting absorbed into your body.

Why Chemical Sunscreens are not Safe

Here’s the problem. As you sit in the sun, the chemicals bake into your skin. As a toxin, this is absorbed and then travels to your fat cells. They STICK there. Once you have a toxin that has found a fat cell, they stick to it. Curious where they stick…you guessed it, cellulite- in all the places you don’t want it. Reducing your total toxin exposure everyday is a key part of achieving a weight loss goal. It makes a big difference.

Second, chemical sunscreens actually alter the integrity of our cells, increasing carcinoma risk. This means a sunburn is actually less damaging than what a chemical sunscreen does to your skin cells. Crazy, but true.

Third, if chemical sunscreens are killing the coral reefs, what are they doing to your body? Sunscreens using chemical ingredients are being banned in Hawaii and Australia due to the toxicity in the wildlife that’s killing coral reefs. Mineral sunscreens do not pose the same risk to the environment.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”If chemical sunscreens are killing the coral reefs, what are they doing to your body?” quote=”if chemical sunscreens are killing the coral reefs, what are they doing to your body?”]

safe sunscreen Food as sunscreen

Foods that Increase Sun Protection Naturally

This is a fun thing! There are plenty of plant foods rich in antioxidants that actually help protect your skin from the inside out. While I still support using sunscreen, I’ll happily layer on these foods for extra protection.

  • Watermelon
  • Green Tea (try it iced!)
  • Leafy greens
  • Berries
  • Tomatoes

It’s the pigment rich foods that tend to boost an internal SPF. Tomatoes showed a 30% increase in sun protection after study participants ate a tomato rich diet. Maybe that’s an extra good reason for a caprese salad at lunch with extra basil, right?

Eating plenty of greens can also help us capture sunlight in our cells, which is then translated into energy via our mitochondria. (Sayer Ji- Green Med 2015 Chlorophyl)

Sunscreen Safety Facts and Vitamin D

I can’t gloss over the fact that skin cancer rates are on the rise. However, the use of sunscreen is also on the rise. Shouldn’t the cancer rates be doing down?

What’s happening may be related to our lack of Vitamin D as a society. Those of us living in the northern latitudes are certainly vitamin D deficient most of the year, and the supplements we may take are not the same as vitamin D generated from sunshine. Vitamin D from the sun is created via the absorption of UVB rays, to create D3 sulfate. What we buy from the store is just D3, and what is fortified in foods is just D2. These are both water soluble, versus D3 sulfate that is fat soluble.

Why is Vitamin D so important? A deficiency in this “hormone” is actually more likely to cause an overall increase in cancer risk, including skin cancer. So as we block all the sun we can to avoid premature aging and skin cancer, we may be setting ourselves up for an increase in cancer rates.

Adding to this concern, studies now show melanoma is more likely to occur in places where the sun doesn’t shine. There is a study that shows there is a reduced likelihood for melanoma for adults and children who play outside. (source) This isn’t the same case for basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, so we all still need to be mindful about our sun exposure, but maybe it’s time to play more outside without sunscreen in the early hours of the day. Let our skin soak in the vitamin D created, and don’t wash it till the end of the day. Vitamin D needs nearly 12 hours to be fully absorbed into your bloodstream.

Did you grab your Free Smoothie Guide?

I could talk all day about how just one smoothie a day can help boost your energy, clear up your skin, and help your digestion.

 

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Safe Sunscreen without Oxybenzone

How do shop for safe sunscreen? First, look at the ingredient label on the back. Skip the marketing on the front label and flip that bottle over. Look for titanium dioxide or zinc oxide in the ingredient label. Make sure you don’t see “fragrance” or methyliosothiazolinone on the ingredient list either. Avoid any sunscreen with oxybenzone in the ingredient list.

Next, check the bottles against the Environmental Working Group sunscreen ratings guide. Enter your choice and shop for those with a #1 rating. These are some of my favorites. (and yes, I am a Beautycounter consultant as I joined many years ago to support their mission to educate women about safer skin care. And it was the sunscreen that lured me to them in the first place!)

 

safe sunscreen beautycounter nontoxic

The new sunscreen line from Beautycounter was updated with the addition of California poppy, which boosts the effectiveness of zinc oxide to block blue light. This makes it an excellent non-toxic safe sunscreen to avoid premature aging from blue light. In addition, the zinc oxide used is very fine, so you won’t be walking around covered in a white film. The newest formula is non-greasy and actually feels good on the skin. All of the sunscreen has an EWG rating of a 1.

In addition, there is a new sunscreen mist option available. It’s an air-pressured can, not a spray using chemical propellants. Also, it’s a non-nano particle zinc oxide so it’s not harmful to children. Those chemical spray sunscreens may be handy, but they are damaging to the skin AND your kid’s lungs if they are inhaled.

In addition to Beautycounter, I’m also happy with these brands and usually shop for them on Amazon. (However, I only use Beautycounter on my kid’s faces as they have very sensitive skin. Other sunscreens would make their eyes itch and get red so I stick with Beautycounter.) 

Best natural sunscreen 2019

SPF Clothing

I think sun coverage during the day is another great awesome to protect our skin, and wear a lot less sunscreen in general. I don’t need all that much sunscreen on my kids when they wear sunscreen shirts and bottoms. My favorite brands to pick from are Cabana Life, Hatley, Mott50 and Coolibar. You will find me on the beach in this navy stripe Cabana life rashguard shirt this summer.

Add a big summer hat and you are golden! Well…fair I mean.

ultimate safe sunscreen guide safe sunscreen kids babies

I hope this long post about safe sunscreen is helpful, and I’ve added in a lot of information. Use this Sunscreen Guide to help you find a safe sunscreen for kids, test out the best natural sunscreens, and learn what are safe sunscreen ingredients. Bottom line, enjoy your time in the sun safely, get some vitamin D, and choose a nontoxic mineral based sunscreen.

p.s. Beautycounter added new after sun cooling gel AND a tinted sunscreen! No more pasty legs!

Safe sunscreen beautycounter countersun 2019

As we finish the first 30 days of the new year, are you evaluating your resolutions? Many of you created goals focused on food and fitness choices. Maybe you want to do something different, or give something up. Are you on track? Or did January get the best of you? What if I told you January isn’t the best time to make major changes. After a month of parties, overindulging, late nights, and travel, we are exhausted to start the new year. Why are we setting ourselves up for failure by creating lofty goals this month? What if what we need to do is not making sweeping changes, but start small.

Small changes are manageable, and often the caveat to bigger changes happening down the road. Trying to make a major shift in your lifestyle while recovering from the holiday season is a quick way to fall off the wellness wagon. If I tell you to just do 4 jumping jacks a day, I bet you can handle it. And maybe you will do a little more. The key is to start small. Enjoy those little victories. Focus on building your energy stores first, and then tackle those next hurdles to create a healthier lifestyle.

If you are wondering where to begin, here’s some tips to get you started. I see victory in your future…

Sit down to eat.

This is a simple task, yet a hard one for some. Sitting on a subway doesn’t count. Sitting in front of your computer at a desk isn’t ideal either. I’m talking about making space to sit at a real table, preferably with food and friends, to enjoy a break. Let your body relax and get out of that fight-or-flight mode that interferes with your digestion. Settling in for a real meal may help eliminate some of that digestive upset that you may have been experiencing.

Modern menu planning free printable

Get a free meal planning worksheet here.

Plan ahead.

If there is one small change you can make to set yourself up for successful change, it’s meal planning. Start with those meals that derail your healthy habits. Is it your snack choices? Plan those first. Is it breakfast? Pick out some new recipes to try that will provide you with the fat and protein to sustain you throughout the morning rush. Map your plan out in a way that works for you, on paper or in an app. Taking away the need to make a choice when you are suffering from decision fatigue is the best way to prepare you for sticking to a plan.

 

Focus on adding, not avoiding.

Too many detox programs are calling for you to give up your favorites when your tired body may not be ready. Post holidays, you are exhausted. Let’s instead think about what will nourish your body. Think hearty, richly colored soups and stews. Load them up with different colored vegetables than you normally eat. Now you are opening up your senses at the table and engaging with the new experience. There won’t be time to think about what you won’t be eating.

 

Chew your food.

Yes, this is an easy one, but often overlooked. As we embrace the colder months, it’s a time to slow down. We eat too fast and chewing is the first thing to go. We have to remember that our stomachs don’t have teeth and we need to do most of the work to breakdown our food. Focus on the idea that the more we chew, the more nutrients our body can accept from our meal.

 

Get moving.

Instead of joining a gym in January, just make a plan to move. It may be a walk outside, or maybe it’s a game of air hockey. Just commit to finding a form of movement that can restore your energy and stretch your muscles. Once your energy is restored post holidays, then it’s time to take another step on your healthy living journey. Walking throughout the day is better for you than an hour at the gym. What are you doing the other 23 hours?

Is January the right time for resolutions? Let's recover from the holidays first, and start with small victories.

 

Which of these tips do you need to work on first? Remember, pick one resolution that you can stick with and enjoy a small victory, and get ready for the next one. Thank you in advance for sharing this post with your community. 

I find myself perplexed sometimes when I hear the latest eco-news. Sometimes it scares me, other times it confuses me. This week there were so many articles I found interesting I thought I would share a few plus some advice.

What you should know about Tervis cups?

This article shares which Tervis cups are BPA free, and which are not. The popular tumblers have been BPA free since 1/1/11. I received a set of Tervis cups when I got married in 2005 so I think they will be moved to the top shelf so we don’t use them often. In the article, a representative from Tervis responds in the comment section discussing when each type of cup made the switch. I’m pretty skeptical of most plastics these days so I’m slowly converting all cups over to glass. Even the kids are using glass; Duralex Cupswork great. They have been dropped numerous times and haven’t broken.

Are you going to drink artificially sweetened milk?

Buying milk is already complicated. Organic, hormone-free, raw  milk, local, and conventional. These are just some of the choices we have to make. This week, a petition filed by the dairy industry is under review with the FDA to let them add artificial sweeteners to milk and other milk based products (yogurt, cheese, etc) and avoid having to label them. If you don’t let your kids have aspartame, which is  a rule for my house, it will be really difficult to figure it out. The sweeteners will be listed as “optional ingredients” and require no special labeling.  A few months ago, we switched to buying our milk from the local dairy farm. (We use Thatcher Farm.) I like that we are supporting a local business, the milk is super fresh, plus our glass bottles get reused.

Thatcher Farm Milk Glass Bottles Food Fight You Tube video

This little video takes aim at the world of processed food and beyond. It’s a story of urban gangsters fighting grocery store crimes. Makes me appreciate how easy it is for me to get access to healthy and fresh produce.

Turtleback making a switch to biodegradable plastic

Although some news is scary, other times it’s positive. One company making plastic drink holders for the beach is making an effort to switch to a biodegradable plastic. I wouldn’t call this an essential beach item by any means, but at least if people are going to buy them, they won’t end up in the ocean forever.

Are we really avoiding BPA?

This is one of those articles that is frustrating, but raises some issues. Even if you eat an organic diet, you still may end up with high levels of BPA/endocrine disruptors in your bloodstream. The two big culprits here are milk and spices. Two possible ways to fix it~ buy milk in glass bottles and switch spices to glass containers. Spices just look prettier in glass jars anyways.