It happened…the first letter came home from my son’s school. “There has been one verified case of the flu and one verified case of strep throat in your son’s classroom.”

Ugh! Really? Is it already that time of year again? The DREADED cold and flu season!

If you are anything like me you REALLY dislike this time of year. For starters, I hate transitioning from warm to cold weather. I’m not a fan of the cold and the transition here in Michigan tends to be a rather brutal one. We’re talking 70 degrees one day and 30 the next!

These temperature changes are a source of added stress for our bodies. And if we are already suffering from a hormone imbalance (which causes a lot of stress for our bodies) then this additional stressor can throw us into a serious tailspin.

If you have kids in school bringing home any one of umpteen million germs, well you might as well forget it.

So what can you do to give your immune system a little boost and make it through this cold and flu season with as little damage as possible?

The best thing you can do is eat immune boosting and warming foods. Think lots of fresh fruits and veggies that are filled with immune boosting vitamins (such as vitamin C and zinc) and antioxidants.

And what the heck are warming foods anyway???

Chinese medicine classifies foods as either warming foods, cooling foods, or neutral foods. When you eat warming foods these foods add warming effects to your body (much needed during the cold months of late fall and winter).  These foods are known to improve circulation and dispel the cold.

A few warming foods you can try adding to your diet include: ginger, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, rosemary, basil, oats, quinoa, onion, black beans, lentils, walnuts, winter squash….and there are many more (a quick search on Google will give you list after list).

Another great way to boost your immune system and ride through the season unscathed is by using something called Fire Cider.

Fire Cider is a botanical tonic that you can make yourself or purchase at most health food stores. Typically fire ciders use a base of honey and vinegar with a variety of other ingredients aimed at revving up your immune system, providing antioxidants, and decreasing inflammation.

Here is a great recipe for making Fire Cider if you are feeling ambitious (it makes a great holiday gifts as well). If you aren’t feeling so ambitious, you can always just grab a bottle at your local health food store.

Fire Cider                                    

Approximate ingredients for a 16oz jar:

·      One clean jar (pasta sauce or ball jars work well)
·      Apple cider vinegar (enough to fill the jar)
·      Juice and zest from 2 lemons
·      2 bulbs garlic
·      1 ginger root about palm size (or equivalent)
·      1 horseradish root
·      2-4 turmeric roots (optional)                     
·      Chili peppers (use what you like, habanero for really hot, jalapeno for less hot, larger hot 
peppers for more mild, etc)
·      Onions (optional)
·      Fresh herbs (I like Thyme & Oregano for their antibacterial properties)
·      Honey (optional)

Finely chop garlic. Peel and finely chop or grate ginger, turmeric, and
horseradish. Finely chops herbs, and onion. You can use a food
processor, blender or just chop the old- fashioned way. Slice the
peppers into rounds if using fresh. Zest and squeeze the juice of both lemons.
Place all ingredients into a jar and cover with apple cider vinegar.
If adding honey, add all ingredients into a small pan and gently heat to a low
simmer. Once your concoction has reached a simmer, turn off the heat and add
honey to taste.
Return mixture to jar, cover tightly and label clearly. Allow to steep
for 2-8 weeks, shaking occasionally to encourage mixing. You may
then either strain the liquid off and discard the marc or just leave it
as is and use as needed.

Once done, aim to drink a shot a day. Make sure to give us a shout if you do try making it yourself. We love to hear your stories and get your feedback!