Germs, stress and dropping temperatures – these are all factors that contribute to the rise of colds and flu around this time of year. With the holiday season among us, it’s a time for joy and excitement, but it also brings with it pressures that can make us anxious and stressed, and ultimately ill. Getting a good night’s rest, keeping active and eating well are all things that will reduce your chances of stress and sickness, but there are other effective tips that will help you beat cold and flu season in the healthiest way.

Prevention is key to curbing sickness, and filling your body with immune-boosting foods such as mushrooms, citrus and lentils will go a long way. However, if you’re already starting to feel an illness coming on, we also have tips to fight it off as soon as you possibly can. From loading up on your zinc intake to inhaling essential oils to clear your airways, here are 5 healthy ways to beat cold and flu season.

1. Eat yogurt for breakfast

Yogurt with fruit and granola is one of my go-to breakfasts; and apparently all this time, I’ve been staving off sickness! The live cultures found in yogurt that help settle digestive distress also help to curb colds. According to, a 2011 scientific study found that “people who consumed probiotics via supplements or fermented foods (think yogurt, kefir and kimchi) had 12 percent fewer upper respiratory infections.”

2. Load up on zinc

Zinc is one of the most essential nutrients when it comes to preventing colds and flu as it has a very positive effect on our immune system. Get your zinc fill by eating lots zinc-rich foods like lentils and quinoa, popping zinc lozenges, and drinking smoothies and juices with spinach or coca powder, which both have high zinc content.

3. If you’re sick, skip the gym

Going to the gym or yoga studio at least 3 times a week is pretty routine for me, and while staying active when you’re not sick is a great way to prevent illness, when I do get sick, I can tell my body needs to rest and I forgo my sweat sessions. Of course, I still walk my dog and a gentle yoga class probably wouldn’t hurt, but your body really needs to save energy to fight off the sickness. Plus, one time I did a hot yoga class when I was battling an awful cough and let me tell you, I will never do that again. Ever.

4. Fill your body with immune-boosting foods

As well as consuming yogurt and zinc-filled foods, there are other foods that are recommended to help your body fight off sickness. Garlic fights bacteria and possibly viruses; mushrooms boost your immune system; citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, contain lots of vitamin C which acts as an antioxidant that supports your immune system; spices have been shown to kill germs; and hot chicken soup fights inflammation, soothing your throat and relieving congestion.

5. Breathe in essential oils

I’ve seen my dad do this a few times, and he swears that it works (I trust him!). If you’re feeling stuffed up, add some thyme or eucalyptus oil to boiling water and breathe in the scented steam. It should feel as though your airways are opening up, allowing you to breathe easier. Do this several times a day for the best results.

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Getting a good night’s rest, keeping active and eating well are all things that will reduce your chances of stress and sickness, but there are other effective tips that will help you beat cold and flu season in the healthiest way. Check out 5 of our favorite cold and flu remedies to stay healthy this season!

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Kate is a freelance lifestyle writer based in Toronto, Canada. She’s always had a passion for the written word, and after interning at publications such as FASHION Magazine and The Kit, she knew she had to take her passion to the next level. When she’s not sharing her love for styling outfits, home cooked meals, fitness endeavours and home décor, she’s probably taking a hot yoga class or watching the latest series on Netflix.

This is an excerpt from the article 5 Healthy Ways to Beat Cold and Flu Season which originally appeared on