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How To Boost Your Immunity In Winter – It’s Simpler Than You Think!

Learning the best practices to boost your immunity in winter is essential. Every winter season, the incidence of the common cold and the flu skyrocket. Since all infections that affect the nose, mouth, and throat (collectively known as upper respiratory tract infections) present with similar signs and symptoms, it could be quite challenging to tell the difference between them.

However, boosting your immunity is the ultimate solution to prevent these infections, reduce their durations when they occur, and lower the severity of their symptoms.

In this article, we will highlight the primary differences between the common cold and the flu, and then discuss some of the measures you can take to boost your immunity in winter.

What is the difference between the flu and the common cold?

To understand the difference between these conditions, we first need to tackle the viruses that cause upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) and their route of transmission.

What is the common cold?

The common cold occurs throughout the year with a peak incidence during the autumn and winter seasons.

This infection is caused by a group of microbes known as enteroviruses. However, researchers identified many viruses that lead to the common cold (e.g., adenovirus, rotavirus, coronavirus).

In general, the signs and symptoms of the common cold are mild and disappear within a few days.

No specific treatment (e.g., antiviral drugs) is needed.

What is the flu?

Unlike the common cold, the flu mainly occurs during the period between December and February, which is often referred to as the flu season.

This infection is more severe than the common cold and has been responsible for some of the largest infectious outbreaks in human history (e.g., the Spanish flu).

Viruses that cause the flu include:

  • Paramyxovirus 1,2
  • Human influenza A and B viruses

Unfortunately, aside from drugs with limited action against the flu (e.g., Tamiflu), there is no curative treatment for this infection. In other words, if you catch the flu, your doctor will prescribe drugs that relieve your symptoms but won’t cure you. Examples of these drugs include acetaminophen (Tylenol), corticosteroids, and nasal decongestants.

The symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections

The common cold and flu present with similar signs and symptoms.

The table below will highlight the shared and different presentations:


Common Cold

The Flu

Congested nose, sneezing, sore throat, headaches

Fever, muscle aches, joint aches


Shortness of breath (i.e., dyspnea)



Complications (e.g., pneumonia)



Respiratory failure




How to boost your immunity in winter

Before we cover how to boost your immunity in winter, let’s briefly discuss one of the most effective ways to lower your risk of catching a cold or getting the influenza virus – handwashing. That’s right! Washing your hands frequently during the flu season will drastically lower your risk of contamination. You see, all viral pathogens have a lipid (i.e., fatty) membrane that is quite sensitive to soap and water.

You may have noticed that using soap quickly gets rid of grease and oil from your hands, which is due to the soap’s ability to break down fatty structures. The same thing works for viruses.

Besides handwashing, there are some general tips that you can follow to improve the functioning of your immune system and optimize its viricidal (i.e., virus-killing), including:

1.      Dietary choices

There are several dietary choices that boost your immunity in winter.

Elderberry and Vitamin C

There is some solid evidence that supports the use of elderberry for flu. In one systematic review, researchers found that elderberry lowers the risk of the flu and the common cold. This supplement helps the immune cells to recognize viruses early on.

Another study analyzed the clinical effects of ingesting 60 milliliters (ml) of elderberry syrup every day. The study included 60 patients with flu-like symptoms. Compared to the placebo group, participants who took elderberry supplements noticed that their symptoms improved 4 days earlier.

Elderberry is also rich in vitamin C. In fact, 100 grams of this fruit contain 6–35 mg of vitamin C, which accounts for 60% of the recommended daily intake. There is some solid evidence that elderberry with vitamin C reduce the incidence of the flu by 50%.

Check out the best elderberry with vitamin C supplement on the market by clicking here.


Reishi mushroom helps enhance the immune system, improve sleep and fatigue, and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

People also take this mushroom to control and lower their risk of recurrent infections, and it always produces fascinating results. It is simply one of the best mushroom complex supplements for the immune system.

Lion's Mane

Lion’s Mane provides several benefits, including:

  • Equips the immune system with the necessary tools to fight infections
  • Dampens inflammation and oxidative stress
  • Protects the brain against dementia
  • Relieves mild symptoms of depression
  • Accelerates recovery after brain injuries
  • Protects against gastric ulcers
  • Lowers the risk of heart disease
  • Manages symptoms of diabetes

Turkey Tail

Turkey tail is a medicinal mushroom with powerful antioxidants that lower the risk of upper respiratory infections. Some evidence suggests that turkey tail can optimize the composition of the gut flora.


Chaga is a superfood that’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.

It also helps with:

  • Slowing down the process of aging
  • Preventing certain types of cancer
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Fighting inflammation

2.      Physical activity

Several clinical studies emphasized the benefits of frequent physical activity on immunity.

According to a 2018 study, researchers concluded that mild exercise can significantly stimulate the function of immune cells during the recovery period.

Although the underlying mechanisms are still unclear, researchers believe that exercise improves intercellular signaling of the immune system by releasing hormones and neurotransmitters.

3.      Sleep quality

Any form of sleep disorder will undoubtedly wreak havoc on your immunity in winter. For example, insomnia can also cause other health problems, such as hormone imbalance, weight gain, and cognitive issues.

It goes without saying that sleeping for 7 to 8 hours every night will boost your immunity in winter.

Takeaway message

Boosting your immunity in winter and protecting yourself from catching upper respiratory infections is vital. Just make sure you follow evidence-based practices and avoid shady tips.

Hopefully, this article cleared out some of the confusion around the myths that surround immunity-boosting in winter, as well as the best practices to achieve this goal.

If you have any questions about the best practices to lower your risk of infections and boost immunity in winter, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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