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  • Writer's pictureCarla Allison, CHHP

The Real Way to Stay Healthy This Winter

With cold and flu season upon us, many wonder what is the best way to protect themselves and their families. While there are different approaches, we certainly want to choose what will naturally and safely protect us while contributing to our overall health and longevity. So, what is the REAL way to stay healthy this fall and winter?


First of all, we have to remember that with the changing seasons comes a reduction in sunlight and more time spent indoors. The sun is an important source of Vitamin D, which is crucial for a strong immune system. Vitamin D is more of a hormone than a vitamin, and it improves immunity by increasing white blood cell activity and also boosts the levels of two microbe-killing compounds known as cathelicidin and defensins. Most Americans are already walking around with low Vitamin D levels, so when fall and winter rolls around, they become even more susceptible to colds and flu.

Supplementing with Vitamin D3 is the solution, but how much to take can be confusing with all the wildly different recommendations out there. While recent recommendations range anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 IU daily, it is always a good idea to get your Vitamin D blood level tested. It was once thought that 20 ng/mL was sufficient, but recent studies show that optimal levels are anywhere from 60 to 100 ng/mL. Most adults do well supplementing with at least 5,000 IU daily.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that Vitamin D3 supplementation during the winter proved to be effective in preventing seasonal Influenza A in schoolchildren. So, make sure your children are getting plenty of Vitamin D as they tend to bring many of these cold and flu viruses home to the rest of the family. For infants and children, a typical dose of Vitamin D3 is 1,000 to 2,000 IU daily. But, as always, check with your healthcare provider if you are unsure of the proper dosage for you and your children.

Vitamin D3 enhances calcium absorption, so choose a supplement that includes Vitamin K2 which will enable the body to effectively deposit that calcium where it belongs. I typically don't recommend calcium supplements as we tend to get enough from our food, but I do recommend taking magnesium and other trace minerals with your Vitamin D3/K2. The mineral supplement that I take and recommend is Mineral Essence. It contains magnesium and the perfect proportion of trace minerals. Magnesium is important, because you won't convert Vitamin D into its active form without sufficient magnesium. It also helps with proper absorption of calcium.

Vitamin D3/K2, magnesium, and trace minerals are a powerful combination for bolstering your immune system and fighting off infections during the winter months.

Some other sources of Vitamin D are cod liver oil, wild-caught salmon, eggs, and mushrooms.


"Many viral infectious diseases have been cured and can continue to be cured by the proper administration of Vitamin C." ---Dr Thomas Levy M.D., J.D. (Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases and Toxins p30)

Vitamin C in megadoses has been proven to relieve and prevent cold and flu symptoms as noted in this study. But, megadosing with your typical Vitamin C supplements can cause a bit of gastrointestinal discomfort. That's why I recommend a liposomal Vitamin C when taking large doses. Liposomal Vitamin C is absorbed directly into the bloodstream and cells, bypassing the GI tract. Just be sure to take it on an empty stomach and wait 15-30 minutes before eating, so there is no interference with absorption. Some people take up to 10,000 mg in a day when fighting off an infection.

Adults and children can also take a high-quality chewable Vitamin C for daily maintenance such as this Super C Chewable which isn't as sour-tasting as many on the market today. Super C Chewable contains whole-fruit powder and no added fructose.

More importantly, increase your daily intake of organic fruits and vegetables that are loaded with Vitamin C such as strawberries, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, melons, bell peppers, broccoli, kale and other dark leafy greens, tomatoes, and cauliflower. Many fresh herbs such as cilantro, chives, thyme, basil, and parsley are also high in Vitamin C.


A healthy gut equals a healthy immune system that can protect you against infections. 70 - 80% of your immune system is in your gut, so optimizing your gut microbiome is worthwhile. Eliminate processed sugar and increase fermented foods such as kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles fermented in brine, and dairy-free yogurt. Also, take a daily probiotic to help create an environment for beneficial gut bacteria while decreasing disease-causing bacteria, fungi, and yeast. The probiotic I recommend for adults is Life 9 and for children, KidScents MightyPro which comes in a powder form in packets and has a fruity, kid-friendly flavor due to the added wolfberry.

Speaking of....


Wolfberries (or goji berries) have been used for thousands of years in China to support the immune system, promote longevity, and detox the body. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Wolfberries are a rich vegetarian source of zinc, which is critical for healthy immunity. Because wolfberries contain powerful antioxidants, they fight off free radicals and protect the body from harmful inflammation.

While eating dried wolfberries are a delicious way to get the benefits, another way to get a quick and enormous immune boost is from an antioxidant drink called NingXia Red. NingXia Red is one of the most powerful antioxidant supplements on the market. It contains whole Chinese wolfberries, grape seed extract, and a dynamic blend of powerful juices and dietary essential oils. Just drinking 1-2 ounces per day will flood your body with nutrients and antioxidants that will give you and your family energy and help support a healthy immune system. It even comes in individual packets, perfect for dropping into school or work lunches.

Here is a fantastic study on the effects of the wolfberry on immune response as it relates to influenza. See here for details on NingXia Red.


I once had an ER physician tell me that one of the best preventatives and remedies for the flu was elderberry. She must have been reading the research and/or experienced it for herself or in her practice. Elderberry is one of the top anti-viral herbs in the world. Several studies have shown it to be highly effective in mitigating flu-like symptoms as well as allergies. Elderberry has many other health benefits as well. You can make your own or buy it at your local pharmacy or health food store. It's safe for both children and adults.


If you still haven't tried genuine essential oils, you are truly missing out on the powerful healing properties of plants.

Millions of families around the globe have caught on to the benefits of genuine essential oils and use them daily for a multitude of physical, mental, and emotional needs. Usually prior to cold and flu season, these families are already stocking up on immune-supporting oils such as the Thieves blend as well as oils for respiratory and digestive support. (See here to learn about the history of essential oils.)

Genuine essential oils are safe and easy to use. Many are even safe for children, but I always recommend diluting with a carrier oil. Oils can be applied topically such as to the bottom of the feet (this is often the easiest way to get oils on kids), on the throat and chest for easier breathing, on the forehead, temples, and back of neck for tension, behind the ears, rubbed into the muscles and joints, along the spine, or over the stomach and abdomen. (Never place essential oils into the eyes or ears.) For adults, some oils can be applied "neat," meaning without a carrier oil.

Simply diffusing oils can sometimes be enough to get the desired results. Many oils have the ability to purify the air in your home which also helps protect your health. Oils such as Lavender are quite effective for a good night's sleep when diffused at bedtime, and a deep, restorative sleep is important for strong immune function.

Essential oils labeled for dietary use such as lemon and lime are perfectly safe to ingest; just follow the directions on the label.

Essential oils have been studied for their impressive therapeutic abilities, but they are not drugs. They naturally support the healthy function of body systems, such as the immune system. "Essential oils arise from nature. Their activity is shaped by the ambient ways of the plant world. Essential oils do not act as weapons but as agents of interaction." --Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D., The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils

Authentic essential oils are quite rare as most on the market are perfume-grade, adulterated, cut with other chemical components, grown, harvested, distilled, stocked and transported improperly or simply synthetic. For more information on the only source I trust and recommend, see here.


Washing your hands is one of the most important things you can do to help protect yourself from illness. Wash your hands with a non-toxic soap and use hand purifiers that are free of harmful chemicals. I highly recommend the Thieves line of hand soap, hand purifier, spray, and wipes. Personally, I carry these everywhere I go. I use the Thieves spray and wipes on shopping cart handles, doorknobs, in bathrooms, restaurant tables, etc. In addition, I use the Thieves line of household cleaners to keep our home as healthy as possible without the dangerous chemicals that weaken the immune system.


Stay fully hydrated with plenty of clean, filtered water and cozy organic herbal teas. We particularly enjoy adding a drop each of the dietary essential oils Thieves Vitality, Lemon Vitality, and Peppermint Vitality to some of our favorite herbal teas. Thieves Vitality is a blend of Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus Radiata, and Rosemary. This essential oil blend provides powerful support to the immune system and helps support respiratory function which makes it perfect for the fall and winter season. Lemon Vitality contains antioxidants, helps detoxify the body, and supports the immune system, while Peppermint Vitality is effective for digestive support and opening up the breathing passages.

Stress weakens the immune system, so make a conscious effort to keep your stress under control by taking time to relax and recharge. Again, I recommend using essential oils in your diffuser and in your bath. Take a roll-on oil such as Stress Away with you wherever you go, so you can easily roll it on and breathe it in when you need to calm your mind and body. Simply breathing in relaxation oils can soothe the nervous system.

Be sure to keep your body moving by doing some form of exercise every day. Exercise stimulates blood circulation, helps the lymphatic system keep moving and filtering properly, boosts the immune system, and improves the winter blues by the release of endorphins.

These are just a few key ways to build your arsenal and power up for fall and winter wellness! For more information on how you can get a winter wellness kit including genuine essential oils, a home diffuser, NingXia Red, and Thieves Household Cleaner, see here.


Dr. Mark Stengler's Natural Healing Library

Discovery of the Ultimate Superfood, Gary Young, ND, Ronald Lawrence, MD, PhD, and Marc Schreuder


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