Immunity tips for preventing and minimising colds and flu

None of us want to fall prey to the nasty coughs and sneezes flying around, but sometimes it just can’t be helped.

Suzie Sawyer shares some top tips for minimising colds and flu.

We all come into contact with viruses every day. There are many places where viruses tend to thrive and they can live on a surface for around an hour. Preventive measures include plenty of hand washing and wiping down doorknobs, surfaces and light switches with an antiseptic wipe or wash. But there are also some great ways to help strengthen your defences naturally.


This herb from South Africa is one to watch. Herbalists are increasingly using it as a natural antibiotic, antiviral and expectorant. It is thought that ingredients in pelargonium help prevent bacteria and viruses from attaching to cell membranes and multiplying. To nip a cough or cold in the bud start treatment as soon as you start to feel symptoms coming on.


Echinacea, otherwise known as the purple coneflower, is widely used to fend off colds and flu. Research shows that ingredients in echinacea increase antibody production, raise white blood cell counts as well as stimulating white blood cell activity. Take it at the first hint of symptoms to ward off a cold or flu or to reduce their severity.


If you are unlucky enough to go down with a bout of the flu, black elderberry may help to cut it short. Recent research showed that black elderberry  increased production of immune system activators called inflammatory cytokines which help fight off infection.


Well known for its anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, garlic is rich in sulphur, which enhances the action of natural killer cells, boosting the immune system’s ability to fight cells infected by bacteria and viruses. Garlic is best eaten raw as cooking destroys the chief active ingredient allicin. Try it chopped and sprinkled over salads, or if you can’t bear the taste or smell, in an odourless capsule form.


  • Keep your distance from people with colds and try not to shake their hands
  • Avoid crowded places such as public transport and city wine bars if you can
  • Try not to rub eyes – the virus can spread as tears from the eye duct drain into the nasal cavity
  • Always sneeze into a tissue and bin it as soon as you can
  • Take probiotics to maintain a health balance of gut bacteria to boost immunity
  • Supplement your diet with vitamin D, which studies show is essential for a healthy immune system