By Dr. Angelina Riopel, ND

Prevention pays off when it comes to boosting your immune system in preparation for cold and flu season. A strong immune system can prevent an infection from developing as well as shorten the duration of a cold or flu. The change of season is a common time for people to get sick. It is wise to begin preparing 3-6 weeks ahead of time to ensure.   As we move into autumn there are a number of ways that we can support our body and boost our immune system.


Quality sleep is very important but equally important is slowing down throughout the day.  Taking a nap, not out of necessity when you feel exhausted but rather as a practice to help rejuvenate and recharge. Napping has been found to improve resistance to colds and flus. A study conducted by the Université Paris Descartes-Sorbonne (1) found that sleep deprivation leads to lowered immunity, and that napping is a beneficial way to offset those effects.


A fast paced life and ongoing stress can increase susceptibility to infections and delay the resolution of colds and flus.  A “daily check-in” can be helpful. When stress is high, take a time out. A few deep breaths, a short walk or simply being conscious can be enough to begin to calm a stressed-out state.


A whole foods diet, high in nutrients and low in sugar and refined carbohydrates is essential to a strong immune system.   Studies have found that certain immune cells are lowered for a number of hours after ingesting sugar.

Increase fruits and vegetables, choose a rainbow of colors and aim for 7-10 servings per day. We all know how important vitamin C is to fighting a cold, but there are many other immune boosting nutrients and anti-oxidants found in fresh fruit & veg, such as zinc & bioflavonoids.


A class of herbs called adaptogens, improve resistance to infections by supporting the adrenal glands and reducing stress hormones that negatively impact the immune system. They can be taken in preparation for, and throughout the cold and flu season. They are also extremely valuable during times of stress when the immune system is more susceptible to illness at anytime of year. Popular adaptogens are: Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian Ginseng), Withania somnifera (Ashwaganda) and Astragalus membranaceus (Astragalus).



1. Faraut B, Nakib S, Drogou C, Elbaz M, Sauvet F, De Bandt JP, Léger D. Napping reverses the salivary interleukin-6 and urinary norepinephrine changes induced bysleep restriction. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Mar;100(3):E416-26.