Cold and Flu Prevention Tips

by: Dr. Rebecca Tocher-Richmond, ND


As the temperature outside drops, colds and flus are on the rise.  Follow these simple tips to keep you and your family healthy this season.


  1. Wash your hands! This is one of the most important measures to prevent the spread of infection.  Viruses can live on your hands for up to 3 hours.  Get your family into the routine of washing their hands as soon as they walk into the door of your home.  Stock up on hand sanitizer for your car or your purse for those situations when hand washing isn’t convenient.  You can even make your own natural hand sanitizer with only 3 simple ingredients!


  1. Drink enough water. Staying well hydrated is important for keeping the immune system strong.  Aim for a minimum of 2 Litres per day, more if you are exercising.


  1. Cut down on sugar. Sugar depresses the immune system for several hours after consuming it.  Get your sweet fix from fruit, and stay away from baked goods and candy.  Be careful of so called ‘health foods’ such as packaged granola bars and flavoured yogourt which contain a lot of sugar.


  1. Increase your vegetable intake. Eating a wide variety of colourful vegetables will provide your body with vitamin C, beta carotene and magnesium.  All of these nutrients are important for your immune system to do it’s job of fighting infections.  Studies on Vitamin C supplements have demonstrated benefit in preventing the common cold.1


  1. Optimize your vitamin D levels. Low vitamin D levels are associated with an increased risk of infection. Vitamin D deficiency is quite common in Canada, especially as the days get shorter.  According to one study, 25% of Canadians studied had low blood levels of Vitamin D in the summer and 40% had low vitamin D levels in the winter.3   We offer Vitamin D testing and supplements in the clinic.


  1. Take probiotics. These healthy bacteria live in your gastrointestinal tract and play various roles in infection prevention.4  Probiotics are generally a safe and effective addition to your supplement routine.


  1. Add some herbs.  Various herbal supplements such as astragalus, echinacea, garlic and oregano oil can be excellent aids to prevent or treat common infections.   Our Naturopathic Doctors can design a protocol of vitamins and botanicals that is appropriate for your unique situation.



  1. Hemila H. Vitamin C and Infections.    2017 Mar29;9(4).
  2. Aranow C. Vitamin D and the Immune System.  J Investiq Med. 2011 Aug;59(6);881-886
  3. Statistics Canada, Canadian Health Measures Survey, Cycle 2. Chart 3, Percentage of Canadians at selected vitamin D levels by season.
  4. Markowiak P, and Slizewska K. Effects of probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics on human health. Nutrients.  2017 Sept; 9(9): 1021.