Flu Beware: 8 Strategies for Prevention

The flu is on my mind. Half of the children in my daughter’s first grade class were out sick with the flu this week.

So I’m in full combat mode, triggering every antiviral defense strategy I know to prevent my daughter from being in the sick half of the class. These strategies are anchored in Super Immunity by Joel Fuhrman MD, in which he dedicates an entire chapter to the flu.

In a nutshell, here are my anti-flu (and cold) strategies:

  1. Increase focus on daily eating powerful antiviral superfoods: mushrooms, cruciferous vegetables (kale, arugula, watercress, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower), onions/garlic and berries/pomegranates. They activate the body’s natural immune system with antiviral and antimicrobial properties. How to get as much of these superfoods into each day? Green smoothies, soups and nutrient-dense salads.
[su_expanding_quote_book source_author=”Joel Fuhrman MD” source_title=”Super Immunity” full_quote=”Excellent nutrition can reduce our vulnerability to infection and reduce the length and severity of illness if we do become infected. Many micronutrients are required to support proper function of the immune system, and phytochemicals from colorful produce have additional anti-microbial and immune-boosting effects. Make sure your diet includes the following immune boosting superfoods.” short_quote=”Excellent nutrition can reduce our vulnerability to infection and reduce the length and severity of illness if we do become infected.”]

Berries aren’t in season, but frozen organic berries are accessible. And joy joy JOY! Pomegranates are in season. I have a love affair with pomegranates, and am happily putting them into green salads, tossing with grains and just enjoying them straight up in bowl.

[su_expanding_quote_web alignment=”full” source_site=”Dr. Fuhrman” source_url=”” full_quote=”Berries are powerful anti-cancer foods that also offer protection against viruses. Antioxidants called flavonoids, which are abundant in berries, have antiviral activity. Berries and grapes are also rich in resveratrol, another antioxidant phytochemical with strong antiviral effects—resveratrol has been shown to block the replication of influenza and other respiratory viruses.” short_quote=”Berries are powerful anti-cancer foods that also offer protection against viruses”]
  1. Make foods with tumeric and ginger: curries and soups
  2. Daily cup (or two) of lemon, ginger, honey tea. Simply slice fresh gingerroot (about 1/4 cup, pour boiling water and let it steep 10 minutes, strain into a fresh cup, add juice of 1/2 a lemon or lime and honey to taste).
  3. Renew my commitment to drink more green tea. Green tea boosts the body’s antiviral immune system. I can’t give up coffee and I much prefer black tea to green tea but am trying for 2 cups green tea a day
  4. Take daily dose of elderberry syrup and zinc
[su_expanding_quote_book source_author=”Joel Fuhrman MD” source_title=”Super Immunity” full_quote=”Studies suggest that black elderberry extract ( 2- 3 tablespoons daily for adults ant 1 – 4 teaspoons for children) can inhibit the growth of influenza viruses and shorten the duration of symptoms, while enhancing antibody levels against the virus. These berries have beneficial properties to enhance the body’s defense against viral infections, particularly influenza.” short_quote=”Studies suggest that black elderberry extract can inhibit the growth of influenza viruses and shorten the duration of symptoms”]

Zinc is an essential mineral that improves immune function improve and can fight off infections and cancer. Zinc supplementation significantly reduces the severity of cold symptoms and decreases the duration of colds and flu by a day or more. Regular zinc use works to prevent colds, leading to fewer school absences and less antibiotic use in children.

Foods rich in zinc:

  • Beef
  • Raw sesame seeds
  • Raw pumpkin seeds
  • Raw pine nuts
  • Raw cashews
  • Raw sunflower seeds
  • Wild Rice
  • Edamame
  • Black beans
  • Fava beans
  • Broccoli
  • Tahini
  • Kale
  1. Make chicken soup. Dr. Joel Fuhrman disputes whether chicken soup is healing, but Dr. Andrew Weil recommends it. Doctors’ advice or not, it’s my absolute comfort food. When colds/flu is in the air, I make a big pot, adding fresh ginger, and lots of garlic, rosemary, kale red bell pepper and sweet potato.
  2. Avoid antibiotics for the cold or flu. Antibiotics don’t kill viruses and do not aid in the recovery from viral illness. Yet antibiotics are routinely prescribed for colds and bronchitis that are viral not bacterial.
  3. Gargle with salt water. This is new information for me. Dr. Michael Greger advises gargling can not only soothe a sore throat but may even prevent a cold. So if people around me have the flu or a cold, a minute or two of gargling after brushing my teeth in the morning is worth it.
[su_expanding_quote_web alignment=”full” source_site=”Nutrition Facts” source_url=”” full_quote=”imple water gargling is effective in preventing upper respiratory tract infections in healthy people. Gargling appears to lower the odds of illness by a third” short_quote=”Gargling appears to lower the odds of illness by a third”]

Flu season is a powerful reminder that the best and most effective way to prevent illness is with comprehensive nutritional adequacy throughout the year. With superfoods as the backbone of our diet we empower our immune system to prevent disease.


I like starting my day with a nutrient-dense green smoothie, especially for when colds/flu is around me.


Mango Ginger Immune Support

Immunity Booster Green Smoothie

Healing Cranberry Cleanser

Simple Green Tea Smoothie


Power Soups

Mushroom Barley Soup

Pumpkin Shrimp Curry

Gal On a Mission: Cauliflower Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup


Nutrient-Dense Salads

Spinach Pomegranate Green and Red Salad

Crimson Coleslaw


For More Empowerment

Dr. Fuhrman: During Cold & Flu Season, Protect Yourself by Eating Right

Nutrition Facts: Best Way to Prevent the Common Cold