As we gear up for the holiday season, one of the unwelcome guests we often become host to is the yearly flu. Many choose to battle this with the flu shot, but college students are the last on the list to receive one when the supplies get low.

Additionally, some opt to boost their immunity around this time to avoid the vaccine all together. If you’re in the latter group (like me), then follow these five tips to avoid the flu this season!

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Start Taking Zinc*

The easy way out, zinc is found in supplement form, which you can take to help boost your immune system. Some people don’t recommend it for long-term use because it might make your immune system dependent on the extra mineral. Others say it’s a great idea to take zinc once a day when you’re surrounded by lots of new germs, like when you’re traveling or working with kids.

Zinc deficiency has negative effects on the immune system, and there’s a good chance that you, as a college student, are not getting enough zinc in your daily diet. It might not bother you in the sun-filled days of summer, but when the demonic flu virus attacks your body this winter, that zinc deficiency will allow the flu to win. Add daily zinc supplements to your diet around flu season, and make sure to take them with food!

Eat More Greens

I hate to break it to you, but one of the best ways to keep your immune system in check is to give it lots of nutrients to fight bacteria and viruses. If you like making green drinks, then I highly recommend consuming one a day during flu season.Otherwise, just increase your consumption of dark leafy greens, broccoli, and other green vegetables.

Try to fit a spinach salad and kale chips into your daily diet from October-January.

Apple Cider Vinegar

The recommendation with apple cider vinegar is to drink about a tablespoon each day to boost your immune system with the antioxidants. However, that’s a sure way to kill your taste buds and turn you off of this magical elixir for life.

The best option, flavor-wise, is to make a simple apple cider vinaigrette with olive oil and eat it on salad, pizza, or sandwiches. I also recommend adding it to fresh lemonade, or mixing it with about 8 ounces of water and a tablespoon of honey.

Lemon & Ginger “Tea”

Lemons are high in vitamin C and ginger helps detox your body so those harmful bugs aren’t lingering in your gut. Add about two tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice to 1 cup of warm water. Grate (or juice) about a tablespoon of fresh ginger and let it steep for 3-5 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon of real honey and enjoy.

When you finish the tea, make sure you eat the ginger pieces at the bottom for optimal benefits. (Additionally, you can add your apple cider vinegar to this “tea” for a super immune booster.)

Get More Sleep

We really seem to pride ourselves on our ability to function on very little sleep. I know I did, but that was back when I was downing 6-10 cups of coffee a day and getting a cold once a month. I’ve since wised up, and I’m proud to say that I make sure to sleep a lot more once people around me start to get sick.

I’d recommend going to bed a little early during the weekdays, and taking a nap in the afternoon whenever you plan to go out. The extra sleep adds up, and your body will be more able to battle this year’s flu virus.

*These are recommendations; consult your doctor before taking any supplements.

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Image: William Brawley